Climatologist urges preparation for major drought

DENVER (AP) The best time to prepare for a devastating drought is now, while vegetation grows and rain is probable, a climatologist warned.

Roger Pielke, state climatologist, urged the Drought Task Force to speed up the state's drought preparations, like repairing dams and examining the feasibility of importing water from neighboring states. Developing water conservation techniques and building new reservoirs is also important, he said Thursday.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board last month tabled a drought preparation proposal for two months to work out contract language. It also must conduct a statewide survey of water providers, which could take a year, said Ron Cattany, deputy director of the Colorado Department of Water Resources.

Last spring, the legislature approved a $300,000 study after state offices agreed to prepare a drought contingency plan.

A long-term drought would increase the risk of wildfires and could impede lawn and golf course watering and some agricultural water use.

The Dust Bowl drought of the 1930s darkened the skies of Colorado's eastern plains with thick clouds of topsoil. Such a drought today would be far worse because the state's population grew to 4.3 million.

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