Water wise: Snowpack news is good, but conservation is better

Word that snowpack levels in the Pacific Northwest mountains have returned to near-normal levels is encouraging, indeed.

But it only underscores the need to conserve.

Rains have filled the skies for most of this spring break week, and it’s good to see that much precipitation gracing the lowlands as well as the peak and slopes of Mount Hood and Mt. Hood Meadows.

Everyone who enjoys snow sports is justifiably pleased by the recent infusion of moisture where it is needed. But it is not too early to be aware of what our resources are this summer.

Orchardists rely on a consistent supply of water. The individual growers, working with the irrigation districts, have refined their conservation practices, and the districts have installed infrastructure and practices in recent years that are designed to both preserve fish runs and preserve water — two efforts that of course go hand-in-hand.

Despite the positive news on the snowpack and its potential impact on water supplies, the reality is that we don’t yet know what the structure of the recent snowfall will be. That is, how well it will integrate with the earlier collection of frozen material, and how much of it can the system naturally store for later use — or see melt away. Much depends on how well cold temperatures are sustained and rate of melt between now and summer.

We don’t know how durable the snowpack will be as spring wears on, so in planting your gardens or planning home projects such as landscaping, consider your own impacts and look at ways to conserve.

Go ahead and water the laurels, but don’t rest on them.

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