This editorial letter originally appeared in SWS July/August 2021 issue as "The Storm Water Spectrum"
Summer in the storm water sector is a wide spectrum.
At one end of this spectrum, the west is facing severe droughts and at the time of writing this, Lake Mead had hit its lowest level on record since the reservoir was filled in the 1930s. As of June 11, 72% of the Western region of the U.S. was in "severe" drought conditions, and 26% was in "exceptional drought."
With the drought, officials are bracing for what could be an active wildfire season. According to a CNN article, in the Los Angeles area, “moisture levels in vegetation have fallen to lows not seen since 2016.” That same article reported that the latest fuel moisture samples “showed brush in the area had dried out four months faster than expected to lows not seen since October 2016.” According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 1,061,091 acres had burned as of June 18, which is up from the 945,827 acres as of June 18, 2020. On page 8 of this issue, you will find an article on the importance of water resiliency, especially in times of drought.
At the other end of this spectrum, we have hurricane season. This year, the hurricane season unofficially started May 15, a few weeks ahead of the official June 1 start date. An average hurricane season has 12 named storms and six hurricanes, but according to a CNBC article, the 2021 season is anticipated to see between 13 to 20 named stories with six to 10 potentially becoming hurricanes.
Regardless of if the weather is calling for a hurricane or drought, these two ends of the spectrum highlight the need for proper water infrastructure and disaster response resources and efforts. As we await word on legislation, such as the American Jobs Plan, it’s important to keep working together to highlight the importance of funding and resources.