Is It Really A Drought, Or Do We Expect Too Much?

The West is dry...it always will be dry

The West is dry…it always will be dry

186°  I think that local TV News is almost irrelevant. Most local stations have cut back so severely on their news budgets that they have to use national news feeds to fill up most of their reporting. The local reporters are usually underpaid and have few connections within the community, so they rely on news directors to tell them what stories to go after, which are typically stories from today’s local newspaper or a public service announcement they received.

I’ve joked that local news stations could produce their video weeks or months in advance because they always repeat the same stories over and over. Fire danger is the perfect local news story because it can be used in any situation. If it is dry, then the fire danger is high. If it is wet, then fuel for fires is growing which will make the fire danger high when the weather dries out.

Drought is another one of those stories that is overdone. Fly across the country on any given day in the Summer and you will notice that once you are West of the Rocky Mountains there is not much plant life to look at on the ground. Sagebrush, juniper trees, some pine forests, and little clumps of dry grass is what passes for vegetation in the West.

Why? It is because it is desert or high desert from the Pacific Ocean to the Western Slope of the Rockies. Yes, we typically get snow in the Winter, and thunder storms in the Summer, but one look at the humidity in most of the Southwestern states and you will know this is not where a rain barrel is useful.

We’re almost always in a drought or near drought conditions. It is news if it is wet, not if it is dry. Our expectations are screwed up. The idea that we can use super clean, drinkable water on our lawns and gardens in the West is ridiculous. It is even more absurd that we use that same super clean water to flush our toilets. We live in a desert and we don’t think we should have to recycle the water we use.

Our expectation is that water will flow into our sink, down the drain, and out the sewer to be treated to send down stream to the next town. We waste too much and someday we will look back on this period in history and be ashamed of how stupid we were about water.

But then what will local news stations talk about if everyone knew that drought in the West is normal?

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