“springs of living water would roll forth from these hills”

A story is told in one of the old accounts of the community of Bluewater, New Mexico, about a visit some time around the turn of the last century, by Apostle Brigham Young, Jr., to the Mormons trying to scratch out a farming life in this high desert valley west of Grants. The story involved …

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The path to Colorado River collaboration is narrow, but we remain on it

Amid the Sturm und Drang of Arizona’s struggle to find a path to reduce its Colorado River water use in the face of a federal ultimatum, I lost sight of an important point. With last week’s legislative approval, Arizona has now agreed to a plan that could eventually reduce the Central Arizona Project’s flow of …

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How things stand now that the Arizona legislature has approved the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan

New plan: a temporary tattoo that reads, “CLOSE IS NOT DONE.” That was Commissioner of Reclamation Brenda Burman’s talking point during a press call this morning explaining what happens next now that we all turned into DCP-less pumpkins last night at midnight. The Arizona legislature gave its last-minute approval late yesterday (hilariously, as I was …

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What exactly is this federal Colorado River “deadline”?

There is a widespread misunderstanding about today’s Colorado River “Drought Contingency Plan” deadline. No, the federal government will not step in at midnight tonight and take over management of the Colorado River if the states of the Colorado River Basin have not approved the long-delayed, painfully negotiated DCP. That is not what Reclamation Commissioner Brenda …

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Fall 2019, University of Arizona Press – Science Be Dammed: How Ignoring Inconvenient Science Drained the Colorado River, by Eric Kuhn and John Fleck

USGS hydrologist Eugene Clyde LaRue’s December 1925 testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation set my storyteller’s nerves tingling. It was a critical moment in the history of the West, as Congress deliberated turning the abstract water allocation rules of the Colorado River Compact into appropriations and concrete. Y’all probably know the …

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No, Lake Powell is not inexorably headed toward “dead pool”

Here is some data about Lake Powell, the big Colorado River reservoir straddling the Arizona-Utah border. Since 2005, the average estimated “natural flow” of the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry has been 13.5 million acre feet per year, well below the 14.8maf average since 1906. So yes, it’s been dry. Since 2005, releases from Lake …

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On Sunday, I crashed Lake Mead.

Sunday afternoon, I crashed Lake Mead. This was not difficult. Each spring, UNM Water Resources Program students do a case study of a river basin as they’re learning dynamic simulation modeling, linking hydrology, economics, and rules. This year, we’re doing the Lower Colorado River Basin. In the WRP curriculum, we’re big on understanding the rules …

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