In this April 16, 2013, file photo, a "bathtub ring" shows the high water mark on Lake Mead near Boulder City, Nev.

 

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson

When is a drought so dry it can no longer just be called a drought? In Colorado, that time may be right now. At least, that's what University of Colorado researcher Douglas Kenney thinks. Kenney directs the school's Western Water Policy Program, which recently released a paper called "When is Drought, Not a Drought: Drought, Aridification, and the "New Normal."

Kenney talked to Colorado Matters about why he and his peers believe that aridification is the more appropriate word. Aridification describes a period of transition where an environment becomes increasingly and permanently water scarce -- a new reality for the Western U.S.