From the Union-Tribune - Historic drought ripples across Southwest:
It’s been a brutal summer…in the upper Colorado River basin. The drought that’s spanned the nation for months has wrung out the Rocky Mountain region where much of the West’s water is produced. Residents of northwestern Colorado are watching gardens fail, crops wither, forest fire threats grow, reservoirs shrivel and businesses founder as water restrictions tighten for both farms and cities.
It’s causing billions of dollars in damage, but not receiving much media attention. I’m only aware of it through a conversation with a farmer at the farmers market. He said we are all hoping for a wet fall and winter, or things could get really bad.
Did you have a chance to see the white water sports at the Olympics, like kayaking and canoeing?
If so, you probably noticed that the entire venue was artificial. The Lee Valley White Water Centre in the north of London was created out of a vast expanse of flat land. The designers, including a firm from Colorado, S20, had to build it all from scratch, including the high-powered water pumps and the speedy, treacherous river.
It made for a fantastic set of competitions and, it turns out, a lasting site for Londoners. The venue is going to stay open for both recreational activities and as a training site for future Olympians.
And, the Smithsonian blog wrote about an intriguing innovation used in the building of the rapids. They used what looks like Lego blocks to create the river bottom:
Since the earliest whitewater slalom competitions in the 1930s, most artificial courses have been constructed primarily of concrete, with static forms inserted to mimic boulders, logs…S20′s design turns the static features into adjustable plastic modules—a bit like underwater Legos—which can be positioned with a high degree of precision, and moved at no cost, essentially creating a new stretch of river each time.
In case you thought no one fished (and ate the fish) in the Anacostia River, here is an article from National Geographic:
Fishermen were casting their lines into the urban waters of Washington, D.C., into a river notorious as one of the dirtiest in the nation. What’s more, according to a recent study, they represented a small fraction of the 17,000 or more residents of this metropolitan area who are consuming fish from a river that has all the markings of a Superfund site.
Sometimes you just can’t believe it, the article even says that a sewer line directly dumps a billion gallons of human waste every year.
Yeah, the river really needs help.
Why rain barrels?
Placed under a down spout, rain barrels conveniently collect rainwater that can be used to water gardens and lawns, wash cars or even fill birdbaths and ponds. A 1000 square foot roof yields about 600 gallons per inch of rainfall – that’s a lot of water (and money) to be saved. Rain barrels can also be hooked up to a soaker hose for easy and free garden watering.
In coastal areas, additional benefits include diverting of water from municipal storm drain systems and protecting the ocean from storm runoff pollution.
Installation can be very easy, placing the barrel under your gutter’s down spout. Conversion kits also offer a diverter system which eliminates the need for cutting off gutter downspouts or installing over-flow valves, and eliminates potential for mosquito breeding.
Most cities offer rain barrels for sale at a discount. Check out your local city website to see if they offer a similar program.