Responding to Drought in San Miguel County


PJ Hulst, Staff Writer

In the past couple of years, San Miguel County has pushed through drought and is in deep need of more moisture. 

San Miguel County is home to Norwood, Telluride, Mountain Village, Sawpit, and Ophir. Telluride is the largest town and has a water supply that is mainly provided through direct plumbing and wells to a residence. Norwood uses a less convenient process for getting their people water. The fortunate few that live in the city limits of Norwood get direct plumbing, but outside of the town limits, the homeowners are left with two options: one is to haul their water from a filling station in town, or drill a well and hope to find enough water in the water table to sustain their household. 

The homeowners that are not lucky enough to find water are required to haul water and have noticed the biggest changes with the restrictions. Once the monthly limit is reached, then their water account is turned off till the end of the month. This greatly impacts some households that use a lot of water compared to two people or someone who lives alone. For some people, the amount of water they use isn’t an issue. But, instead, they have to deal with the task of maintaining a truck that is capable of hauling heavy loads and purchasing a water tank to transport the water. Not to mention some homeowners are required to install a cistern to hold the water at their residence. 

To effectively respond to a drought, the town has to be prepared to balance implementation of water restrictions and influencing people to commit to conserving water, with also be able to keep the agriculture businesses active, so that they don’t collapse entirely during the drought. Norwood is based mainly an agricultural community, which is why this balance must be the town’s main focus. For any other town or county, their focuses should be based on what that area needs. 

Conserving water directly at the household is the most effective but the hardest method for people to commit to. The people who haul water are the most aware of how important it is to conserve water, because they see directly how much water they go through. 

A piece of knowledge for any area, county, or town is that posters and flyers are not the most effective way to bring awareness to the people who live in an area that is experiencing drought, while the people that experience the effects directly understand it the best.