Drought Update and the Future Outlook

Introduction – The U.S. Drought is something I’ve been tracking for a few years. The direct impact of droughts naturally ties in with water shortage/depletion issues creating another risk or compounding the impact of the drought. After the Midwest received some drought relief, the focus was on the West Coast. California and parts of Nevada and Oregon are still in a severe drought. But they are not alone and the future doesn’t bode well for several other areas. Drought should be on most risk lists but needs to be looked at for your strategic (long-term) plan.

Main Essay – A quick update, as of February 2015, is that the at least eight states have drought conditions listed as “Exceptional” (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/). About another fifteen states are in the “Moderate” ranges with many recently changing for the worse. Anyone doing a risk analysis for their community or corporation needs to look at the probability and impact of any moderate to severe drought. At the same time, how are you going to mitigate the impact of the drought?

How are you going to use the water in an aquifer/well? Do you have any water capture methods? Is water storage a problem/challenge? How do you handle storm water run off? How does wastewater figure into this issue/solution?

Might as well mention it now. Any drought solution needs to be legal for your area. Some places don’t allow the capture of rainwater in rain barrels. If that is the case then look at the legality of a pond or tank. Do your research on possible solutions and be creative. Can water be like solar in that can the “extra” be sold back to the water company/association? Can the amount of captured water be limited and the rest released naturally into a designated runoff area or approved stream?

Perhaps the biggest challenge with any drought is any individual or community garden. In an extreme case, how are you going to water your garden if the water is turned off to your house/building? What you are going to do needs to be part of the plan or the impacts will be greater. No water can easily mean the failure of your crops. Keep in mind that a loss of power presents water issues, as it needs to be pumped to your site.

An option in any plan is relocation. I talked about this in my last post. Another article in the Washington Post wonkblog (4 maps that show how demographic change will touch every corner of the country; January 20th, 2015) shows the population of “The Rust Belt and Great Plains” is on the move and in most cases to bigger cities. It is possible that many of these moves will be to places facing several future challenges and risks. One of the cities mentioned for growth was Las Vegas, Nevada. That city is one of the “Exceptional Drought” areas. If you feel like they have a drought and water plan for the future then by all means move there. On the other hand, if they don’t have a plan, then don’t consider a move to Las Vegas no matter what the short-term benefits might be.

The long range forecast for this drought doesn’t show any sign of improvement and actually makes it out to get worse and cover a larger area. In a BBC article (US ‘at risk of mega-drought future’ by Johathan Amos, February 12, 2015) he warns the American southwest and central plains could be in for a “super-drought the like of which they have not witnessed in over 1,000 years”. When doing risk analysis you should be looking at the 100 and 500-year cycles for floods and other natural disasters. As this one claims, a 1,000-year cycle is a clear indicator on future risks for these areas. It makes plans, to be self-reliant, all that much tougher.

Keep in mind that this will not be a graduated scale over hundreds of years. Mega-droughts have occurred in the past over twenty to fifty year cycles. The US “Dust Bowl” in the 1930’s was a twenty-year event that devastated large portions of the agricultural land and set up a population migration to California.

The current drought in the US would have to go on for several more years to make it a mega-drought cycle. Of course, that information doesn’t help the outlook for the short-term. It is not unexpected for discussions like this to head into Global Warming and Climate Change reasoning. For risk analysis you don’t need to know, per say, what is causing the drought. The BBC article noted about reduced precipitation and increased evaporation (due to higher temperatures) causing these drought conditions. Climate Change can affect what you put down for the probability. If you are currently in a drought zone or in a forecasted zone (SW and Central Plains) then this has to be part of your risk analysis and continuity planning. One course of action should be to relocate out of this drought area.

When you start to look at impacts from droughts the list can be quite long. One crop noted in a related BBC article by David Willis was about almond trees in California. They need a trillion gallons of water per year. Wow! More water than needed for cotton or tomatoes. Hard or impossible to pull that out of the ground or get it from irrigation. We get a lot of crops from California especially during the out of season months in other areas of the US. For those living outside the drought area it means planning on higher prices if you can get the crop delivered at all.

One of the primary acronyms that I use with 3CFortress planning is AdIOS. Adapt-Improvise-Overcome-Survive. For the drought risks the question is how to adapt? Can you adapt to your current environment? How can you improvise to make up for or replace the water loss in a short or long-term drought? What is your plan to overcome these risks and obstacles? If you don’t include this in your continuity planning then it will be “good-bye”. Your community will decline and your business shut their doors. In other words, you don’t survive the crisis.

Check It Out – With “self-reliance” as one of the key concepts for any 3CFortress, fresh and wastewater dynamics become very important. An article on freeenterprise.com (January 22, 2015) discussed using algae to turn wastewater into a resource. Microorganisms grade the organic materials in the water, then are separated out. To me, this is one of those, how can someone dream this up? Amazingly, the process is said to have been around for 100 years. One company is working to make this a profitable process for them and the community. Currently, this effort is going on in Tel Aviv, Israel but they are looking at possible sites in the USA.

Quick Tip – 100-200 words; advice in 60 seconds; long tips go in a full EET category. 12 Natural Remedies For Eczema, Rashes and a Range of Persistent Skin Conditions. Found this on healthysustainableliving.blogspot.com as the word “sustainable” jumped out at me. If you have persistent issues with your skin then this is worth a read. If not, it still shows you how to get some relief for your skin which we can all use from time to time. One of the twelve that is readily available is “coconut oil”. Make sure it is natural, not refined, bleached, or deodorized. Doesn’t require much touching or rubbing.

Look Who’s Talking – Freshbitesdaily.com, on the “About” tab, talks about growing produce for the house or local community. They produce garden vegetables, herbs and teas for the farm and local community on their five acre plot. They “try every day to make good decisions about our lifestyle to promote our health and wellbeing”. Any 3CFortress should keep this in mind when thinking about farm to market. The mother is seventy years old which tells me she has made a lot of great decisions in her lifetime.

What Do You Think? – Always looking for good feedback and questions. Send it now while you are thinking about it.

 

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