Stuff I wrote elsewhere: The Great Decoupling of the West’s Water

This 2010 paper by Peter Gleick and Meena Palaniappan planted the seed, and as I worked on my book I found examples everywhere – geographies and economic communities that are using less water even as they were growing. I blogged about it, as one does, one thing led to another, and when I finished the book …

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Stuff I wrote elsewhere: another dry year on the Rio Grande?

The January forecast is out. It is too early to panic, but not to early to have this concern duly noted: With a bad snowpack so far, even a wet spring may not be enough to forestall the fifth consecutive year of below-average runoff on the Rio Grande, according to forecaster Angus Goodbody with the …

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Stuff I wrote elsewhere: watershed health and governance models

This looks like a story about forest health, fire risk, and restoration. And in a way, I guess, it is. But beyond the specifics of the challenges they’re trying to address, the underlying governance issues that the folks at the Rio Grande Water Fund are tackling are the fascinating part: What McCarthy did next sets …

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Stuff I wrote elsewhere: first-ever San Juan Chama Project shortfall

The standard Bureau of Reclamation map of the Colorado River Basin has a series of red-dashed slivers beyond the physical boundaries of the basin itself, the places where we’ve chosen to artificially extend the watershed’s boundaries. In the process, we have created entire communities dependent on the success or failure of the basin’s water management …

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Stuff I wrote elsewhere about deceptive bird sex

The best part of doing this story was standing by the Rio Grande at dusk with Chris Witt, watching the sandhill cranes fly in to roost. The birds were great, but the really extraordinary part was watching Chris watch them – eyes flitting, counting, listening and hearing. As they flew by, they announced their presence …

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Stuff I wrote elsewhere: NM water policy tools poorly suited for the job

From this morning’s newspaper, a look at the latest proposal to pump rural groundwater to New Mexico’s populous middle (behind Google surveywall): Depending on your view of the issue, this is either: a) an innovative approach to bring new water to the Middle Rio Grande Valley, or b) an inappropriate attempt to privatize a public resource …

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Stuff I wrote elsewhere: Drought-tolerant alfalfa

It’s a little thing, this new breed of drought-tolerant alfalfa bred on New Mexico State University research plots in the southern part of my arid state. But it provides another clue (behind a Google surveywall) about what the path forward in western water management might look like: Adoption of a new crop takes time, so don’t …

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Stuff I wrote elsewhere: ASR in New Mexico

I had a lovely afternoon yesterday walking alongside the Bear Canyon Arroyo in Albuquerque’s northeast heights, talking with fellow water nerds Katherine Yuhas and Amy Ewing, and watching water flow in New Mexico’s first operational aquifer storage and recovery project (behind a Google surveywall): Nearly 3,000 gallons a minute of water began spurting from a …

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Stuff I wrote elsewhere: septic systems and groundwater contamination

I am endlessly fascinated (and frustrated) by the mess that is societal risk perception. Here (behind a Google survey wall), a look at efforts to regulate septic systems in Bernalillo County, primarily on the kind-of-rural fringes of the Albuquerque metro area: As groundwater contamination problems go, the stuff leaking from septic systems isn’t terribly sexy. …

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Stuff I wrote elsewhere: an inordinate fondness for beetles

In central New Mexico, the salt cedar beetle seems here to stay, enforcing the Law of Unintended Consequences: Introduced in the 19th century to protect railroad bridge abutments, praised for its ability to protect riverbanks from erosion, vilified for alleged water-sucking ways while simultaneously defended as wildlife habitat, the story of the Eurasian tamarisk – …

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