Vision: Watching the Basin

Michael Simpson is Professor of Environmental Studies at the University of New England Antioch and works with the department’s Center for Climate Preparedness and Community Resilience in Keene.

For those of us who love the winter in New Hampshire’s lakes region, this winter has been tough. There isn’t enough snow for cross-country skiing or snowmobiling, and it’s a little too hot to glide safely on lakes. It’s just a fluke for this year’s weather, although the latest regional climate assessment from the University of New Hampshire notes that warmer winters are a documented climate trend, resulting in wetter and heavier snowfalls and more likely. ice cover.

And while some of us are close to this new climate being normal, there is an even bigger storm on the horizon, or its absence. This Washington Post recently highlighted an Arizona town whose neighborhood’s water supply has been cut off by a prolonged drought. This is just the first surge for all states receiving water from the Colorado River.

According to scientific americanThe entire Colorado Plateau is in its longest drought in more than 1,200 years, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts future climatic conditions for this region of the country will be higher temperatures, less snowdrifts, and higher frequency. from extreme droughts

So why worry here in the Merrimack River basin? According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, about 50% of the products we consume, such as beans, lettuce, tree fruits, and nuts, come from this region, particularly the states of Arizona and California, and even parts of northern Mexico. The USDA adds that this is a region where 92% of its agriculture requires irrigation. The slurry that provides fodder for livestock in this and other Southwestern states.

The main source of this irrigated water is the Colorado River; is a river basin with such a large deficit that the large reservoirs associated with both the river’s Hoover and Glen Canyon dams have dropped to such low levels that “dead zones” are forming behind it. This is due to the fact that the biologically life-saving oxygenated waters do not come from the spring. Simultaneously, as the water levels behind these hydroelectric dams continue to drop, they will soon be so low that the water cannot be diverted to the electric turbines. A recent study by Power Consulting said that with the loss of hydropower due to large-scale drought, the western power grid is poised to experience outages.

The overarching federal agency that determines how much water each state can get from the Colorado River has told recipient states that they must drastically and immediately reduce their demands. If they do not act, the flow of water into these states will decrease, affecting not only agriculture but also cities.

So if you see an inflationary rise in the price of your fresh produce and meat in the not-too-distant future, or you start to hear about disruptions in industries that rely heavily on electricity, such as the servers that power the nation’s computer, dots between cloud storage, the driver dumping the hard-to-shovel wet snow here, that spot over there. you can begin to combine in close connection with dry, scorching days.