First it was Georgia, with Governor Sonny Purdue holding prayer meetings in attempt to incur divine intervention. Then it was Texas, with uncontrolled wildfires outside of Austin and water shipped on the back of tankers instead of flowing out of faucets. And as recently as last year, the southern United States has been left reeling from over $10 billion in agriculture losses.
And there’s no end in sight.
In the March/April issue of Water Efficiency, I discussed the US Drought Monitor that revealed, “many American cities—including Atlanta, GA; Dallas, TX; Phoenix, AZ; and Oklahoma City, OK—are situated smack dab in the middle of a drought belt. Indeed, much of the western US appears to be headed in the same direction.”
Unfortunately, a lack of April showers has plunged much of the country into drought conditions—transforming the drought belt into a drought blanket. Last week, the Drought Monitor reported that 61% of the lower 48 states are experiencing “abnormally dry” drought conditions. In fact, only two states—Ohio and Alaska—are not experiencing any drought, or “near-drought”, conditions.
With 48 states in the crosshairs of drought—the highest percentage since 2007, according to the Drought Monitor—many regions unaccustomed to water shortages are finding themselves at the losing end of their water resources. According the US Geological Survey, New England is currently experiencing stream flow levels at record lows. In fact, all along the East Coast, communities are struggling to deal with unusual drought conditions, including:
* Connecticut has “endured its driest January-March period ever” according to Weather Channel meteorologist Jonathan Erdman.
* Vermont is listed as “abnormally dry” in the sixth month, after recording its wettest August on record, including flooding as a result of Hurricane Irene.
* Wildfires in Florida, New Jersey, and all along the East Coast are being blamed on dry, windy conditions.
In the South, conditions are also continuing to worsen. The South Florida Water Management District has issued a water shortage warning extending from Key West to Orlando. And parts of Georgia and Texas continue to struggle under dry conditions exacerbated by La Niña weather conditions.
In California, the Department of Water Resources has warned that the state’s snowpack is 45% below normal. And in the Plains states and the Midwest, farmers are keeping a wary eye on weather conditions due to a less than optimal snowpack, thanks to an unusually mild winter.
So, what do you think? How do we get ourselves out from under the drought blanket? Are we doing enough to reduce demand and eliminate water waste? And do you think there’s enough of an understanding by the general public that drought doesn’t just impact the water that comes out of the tap, but the light switch, the gas pump, and just about every product and activity we depend on?
Upcoming Forester University Webinars
April 18th, - May 25th, 2012
Sediment and Erosion Control
Master Class Series
Join industry expert and bestselling author Jerald S. Fifield, Ph.D., CISEC, CPESC and Tina R. Evans, PE, CISEC for a comprehensive 6-part online master class and workshop series (0.9 CEUs / 9 PDHs) exploring the ins and outs of effective sediment and erosion control plan design and review based on Fifield’s recently released 3rd edition of the bestselling manual Designing and Reviewing Effective Sediment and Erosion Control Plans (included in your Master Class Series package).
April – May 2012
Water Auditing Master Series
Learn the ins-and-outs of water auditing! Join 2010’s Speaker of the Year, Troy Aichele, LEED AP (O+M) of Aichele and Associates LLC for the Water Auditing Master Series, a 3-part webinar/webcast series focusing on getting you up-to-speed on the key attributes, uses, and opportunities in water auditing, as demonstrating step-by-step how to conduct a water audit, avoid the pitfalls, calculate payback periods, and incorporate these into your reports.
* Water Auditing 101: Introduction to Water Auditing
* How to Conduct a Water Audit and Avoid the Pitfalls
* How to Calculate Water Audit Payback Periods and Write Water Audit Reports
April 18th, 2012
Evaluating Erosion, Sediment & Sedimentation
Go beyond the basics! Join Jerald S. Fifield and Tina R. Evans for the first installment of our advanced Sediment and Erosion Control Master Class Series, Evaluating Erosion, Sediment, and Sedimentation, exploring the differences between erosion, sediment and sedimentation and developing an understanding of these variables allowing for the quantification of erosion and sediment yield on a construction site.
Designing Effective Sediment Containment Systems for Construction
Are your containment systems effective? Join Jerald S. Fifield and Tina R. Evans for the second installment of our advanced Sediment and Erosion Control Master Class Series and the first part of our Effective Sediment Containment Systems Series, Designing Effective Sediment Containment Systems for Construction Sites, exploring a scientific and engineering assessment of parameters necessary to capture design size particles while flood flows are discharging from a containment system.
April 26 th, 2012
BMP Nutrient Sources and Transformations -
How to Optimize Nutrient Removal in SCMs
Are your Stormwater Control Measures (SCMs) effectively removing nitrogen and phosphorus from runoff? Join Bill Lucas to explore how to select and design SCMs to improve nitrogen and phosphorus retention. After an overview of nitrogen and phosphorous forms, sources, and transformations, Lucas will discuss how nitrogen and phosphorus transformations can be optimized in SCMs; how to select and design SCMs for settings; and how to tailor these programs to meet TMDL requirements more cost effectively.
May 2nd, 2012
Limitations of Commonly Found Construction Site Sediment Control
Are your temporary BMPs reliable? Join Jerald S. Fifield and Tina R. Evans for the third installment of our advanced Sediment and Erosion Control Master Class Series and the second part of our Effective Sediment Containment Systems Series, Limitations of Commonly Found Construction Site Sediment Control BMPs, exploring temporary BMPs, their limitations (e.g., barrier BMPs), and the principals and practice in assessing and evaluating the effectiveness of barrier BMPs.
May 3rd, 2012
How to Conduct a Water Audit and Avoid the Pitfalls
Avoid the water auditing pitfalls! Join Troy Aichele, LEED AP (O+M) of Aichele and Associates LLC for How to Conduct a Water Audit and Avoid the Pitfalls on Thurs., May 3rd to learn the step-by-step process of performing a water audit; the key information, tools, equipment, rebates, and typical pitfalls in performing successful audits; and learn how to use a custom plumbing fixture water audit spreadsheet. Learn how to successfully conduct your own water audit and avoid common water auditing pitfalls to ensure your audit goes smoothly.
May 31st, 2012
How to Calculate Water Audit Payback Periods and Write Water Audit Reports
Maximize your payback! Join Troy Aichele, LEED AP (O+M) of Aichele and Associates LLC for How to Calculate Water Audit Payback Periods and Write Audit Reports on Thurs., May 31st addressing the most essential skill in water auditing: how to calculate payback period and incorporate it effectively in your water audit report. Within this discussion, Aichele will explore how to calculate water audit improvement periods using a custom-built payback spreadsheet calculator; how to calculate use rates; how to incorporate savings, rebates and utility increases into your payback calculations; and how to write a water audit report letter incorporating water audit results and payback periods.