3/12/2014 10:35:00 AM Editorial It's a drought, we need to do our part
From the understatement of the year file came an official stamp Thursday: All of Arizona is now in a drought.
We know it's dry. But late last week it became official when the U.S. Department of Agriculture designated all 15 state counties as natural disaster areas for drought. All, including Yavapai, now have their farmers and ranchers eligible for federal low-interest emergency loans based on agricultural production losses.
We did have some beneficial rain recently. Prescott alone got more than one-and-a-half inches over three days this past weekend, and Prescott Valley leads the annual rainfall totals. But as lovely and welcome as it was, it didn't do much for our big picture.
The U.S. drought monitor last week reported few changes to the West's drought depiction, mainly because the recent rain and snowfall didn't significantly dent our existing deficits. Most of Arizona, in fact, by this past Thursday was still officially classified as a severe drought, including our backyard's north-central corridor.
Then came the fed's official declaration that same day. And there sure isn't any precipitation in the forecast.
So now, we all need to do our part, especially with the first day of spring (March 20) and its growing season upon us.
The Arizona Department of Water Resources tells us that outdoor water use accounts for 58 percent of residential water use, and that 80 to 90 percent of that comes directly from landscaping. That doesn't mean you have to live with a lifeless yard. When landscaping, work with native plants and check with a professional about watering guidelines.
Go ahead and wash your car, but be aware. Washing your car at home can use as much as 80 to 140 gallons of water, which is actually more than the amount used at a commercial car wash.
Always check your faucets and pipes for leaks, and repair or replace when needed. Keep those showers under five minutes. Definitely teach your children the importance of water conservation in Arizona.
And, to state the obvious, pools and grass lawns are a no-no.
Our area is critical for being fire-wise, but it's equally important to be water-wise. We're in a severe drought, and we're sure not getting help from above.