We have been fortunate in the Houston region when it comes to rainfall; just recently it was noted that Lake Conroe is finally full for the first time in four years. However, we are still below the “average” for the year. So, additional rainfall will be welcome, not only across the State, but in our region also.
How bad is the drought in the southern United States? The National Weather Service (NWS) and its NOAA partners have released the May 2014 Southern Plains Drought Outlook Summary. Drought conditions now cover 70% of Texas; and also 70% of Oklahoma and 90% of New Mexico. Over two-thirds of the region’s winter weather crop is in poor to very poor condition. Oklahoma’s harvest is project to be the worst since the fifties.
And, here is some good news. The likelihood of an El Nino event bringing potential drought relief is always a possibility for us in the southern United States. Experimental guidance from NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences pegs the odds of an El Nino occurring at 80%.
Strategies for drought preparedness focus mainly on water conservation. Even though we don’t have severe drought issues in Fort Bend County, making water conservation practices a part of your daily life is always a good idea. Here are some good practices designed to preserve water:
- Never pour water down the drain when there may be another use for it. For example, use it to water your indoor plants or garden.
- Repair dripping faucets by replacing washers. One drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water per year.
- Check all plumbing for leaks and have any leaks repaired by a plumber.
- Retrofit all household faucets by installing aerators with flow restrictors.
- Install a toilet displacement device to cut down on the amount of water needed to flush. Place a one-gallon plastic jug of water into the tank to displace toilet flow (do not use a brick, it may dissolve and loose pieces may cause damage to the internal parts). Be sure installation does not interfere with the operating parts.
- Position sprinklers so water lands on the lawn and shrubs and not on paved areas.
Repair sprinklers that spray a fine mist. Most misting issues result from a pressure problem, properly regulating pressure in an irrigation system will prevent misting.
- Check sprinkler systems and timing devices regularly to be sure they operate properly.
- Raise the lawn mower blade to at least three inches or to its highest level. A higher cut encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system, and holds soil moisture.