A decent (not great, but decent) water year on the Colorado was not enough to stave off mandatory cuts

Walking across the University of New Mexico campus yesterday afternoon on my way to orientation for our incoming UNM Water Resources Program students, at precisely 3:10 pm MDT, a friend sent me a historic text message: “1089.4”. Translated from the native language of the Colorado River Water Nerd, “1089.4” means “The surface of Lake Mead …

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The repartimiento – a deep history of sharing water

Preparing for the fall class I co-teach, I was sitting out by the shady fountain in the old Zimmerman Library courtyard this morning, when I had occasion to spill carne adovada from my breakfast burrito on my copy of Jose Rivera’s book chapter on “The historical role of acequias and agriculture“. (Technically it’s my co-instructor …

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The Salton Sea: “treat it as a real place that impacts real people’s lives”

Imperial Valley resident (and Imperial Irrigation District board member) Jim Hanks: The Salton Sea is a real place to me and I have always seen it as a lake, because that’s what it is. I also see it as hydrologically, geographically and morally connected to the Colorado River, and I appreciate the effort to place …

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The biggest year since 1995 on New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande

Thanks to continued high flows, this is now the wettest year on New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande since 1995. My measurement point is the San Felipe gauge on the Rio Grande in north-central New Mexico. The measure is total flow to date this year, compared to total flows at this point in all previous years …

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Resilience and my little Rio Grande sandbar island

Since early spring, I’ve taken my early morning bike ride through downtown Albuquerque to the old Route 66 crossing of the Rio Grande. Every time, I’ve stopped to check out this little sandbar island, anchored by a tenacious community of willows. I started watching closely after I saw a pair of geese, frantic as the …

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Beyond the “Drought Contingency Plan” on the Colorado River

Brad Udall, Doug Kenney, and I wrote a thing about the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan and what comes next: The plan is historic: It acknowledges that southwestern states need to make deep water use reductions – including a large share from agriculture, which uses over 70% of the supply – to prevent Colorado River …

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Upper Colorado River Basin water use: well below our compact allocation, not going up

tl;dr Folks in the Upper Colorado River Basin are only using ~60 percent of their Colorado River Compact allocation Use has been basically flat since 1990. It is not going up. A couple of weeks ago I got an email, with an attached spreadsheet, from my co-author Eric Kuhn.  It was his distillation of data …

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New Mexico’s shrinking Gila River diversion proposal shrinks some more

The 1946 Bureau of Reclamation report projecting future development of the Colorado River – “A Natural Menace Becomes a National Resources” was its subtitle – included a picture of Hoover Dam with the caption: “World’s highest dam only partly harnesses the wild Colorado River.” The report laid out a staggeringly ambitious plan for the rest …

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