“a veritable garden spot”

Barr Irrigation District The home of the ill-fated “Barr Irrigation District” is not one of Albuquerque’s scenic destinations. Perched on low sand hills between Albuquerque’s soft industrial underbelly and the city’s “Sunport” (our marketing appellation for what a lesser metropolis might call an “airport”), the old irrigation district land is today home to an interstate, …

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With Eric Kuhn’s help, I found a (nearly) full Colorado River Basin reservoir!

When Eric and I converge on a meeting, there’s always the “Are you gonna bring a bike?” conversation. This week it’s the Getches-Wilkinson Center’s Annual Colorado River conference, and the bike ride was a loop around Denver Water’s Dillon Reservoir, on the Blue River. It’s nearly full. The creeks feeding it were running. There was …

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Touton: On the Colorado River, we need to cut an additional 2 to 4 million acre feet of use. Now.

I’ll let Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlin Touton explain this: In the Colorado River Basin more conservation and demand management are needed in addition to the actions already underway. Between 2 and 4 million acre feet of additional conservation is needed just to protect critical elevations in 2023. (emphasis added) That’s what Commissioner Touton …

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As Albuquerque’s Rio Grande dries, is the system simply functioning as we intended?

In a sad but important way, the disastrous 2022 water year has been a gift to the writer, and I’m spending as much time as I can in reporter mode, sussing out the stories of this remarkable year. In the new book we’re writing, Bob Berrens and I are trying to make sense of the …

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Ditch Lobster in a Drying Griegos Lateral

Sorry I didn’t have the presence of mind to give you something for scale. This little critter was a a bit smaller than my hand, crawling along the bottom of the drying Griegos Lateral, one of the 1700s-era irrigation ditches on the Albuquerque Rio Grande Valley floor. Drying kind early this year, because climate change. …

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Tobacco farming and swamps in early 20th century Albuquerque

Albuquerque’s nod to its agricultural past, like much of the style we have adopted for ourselves, is in significant measure artifice. This is not to say that it is not in some vague sense rooted in a truth, an actual past. But we engage in the 21st century in significant embellishment, a story we spin …

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Central New Mexico’s Rio Grande is beginning to dry

Sometime last weekend (June 4-5, 2022), the Rio Grande south of Socorro, New Mexico, began drying. By this morning (Monday June 6) river managers reported 20+ miles of drying. The gage north of the 380 bridge at San Antonio dropped to zero today. The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, which normally gets the largest …

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A hundred years ago in Colorado River Compact negotiations: the Supreme Court Breaks the logjam

By Eric Kuhn and John Fleck With a single statement, the United States Supreme Court changed the direction and tone of the compact negotiations: [T]he waters of an innavigable stream rising in one state and flowing into a state adjoining may not be disposed of by the upper state as she may choose, regardless of …

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