You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave

Last week I noted the disturbing analogy of 1976-77 for the Colorado River Basin, a year eerily similar in the early months of snowpack development to 2017-18. In addition to the major drops in reservoir levels, 1976-77 produced four of the eight best-selling albums of all time: Meat Loaf: Bat Out of Hell The Eagles: Greatest Hits …

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Initial forecast: Lakes Mead and Powell headed for record low in 2018

With an underwhelming snowpack right now, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s initial 2018 forecast (pdf here) projects combined storage in Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the two primary reservoirs on the Colorado River, will drop to 21.7 million acre feet by the end of 2018. That would be the lowest Mead/Powell combined year end storage …

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On the need for federal legislation to implement Colorado River drought plans

Eric Kuhn* of the Colorado River District wrote an interesting memo (pdf here) for his board’s meeting next week that lays out the options and reasoning behind current discussions about whether federal legislation will be needed to implement Colorado River Basin drought plans. The “Law of the River”, which governs allocation, distribution, and management of …

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What happened in the Colorado River Basin in the winter of 1976-77?

At yesterday’s monthly Colorado Basin River Forecast Center briefing, Greg Smith noted, by way of analogy, the winter of 1976-77. Smith explained that he wasn’t forecasting – the fact that the evolution of this year’s forecast is similar to 1976-77 doesn’t mean that the rest of this year will be like that year, or that …

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Overcoming “use it or lose it” on the Colorado – an example

Yesterday I pointed out how much water is being stashed in Lake Mead as an example of how folks on the Colorado River are overcoming the old “use it or lose it” problem in western water. Here’s another example, this time with water taken off of the river and stored underground, in this case excess water …

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Overcoming “use it or lose it” on the Colorado River

The “use it or lose it” problem in western water happens when water users who conserve are penalized by having the saved water simply go to another user. A series of policy innovations over the last decade to overcome this problem are showing up right now in a big way in Lake Mead. In all, …

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Not to alarm you further, but the Jan. 1 runoff forecast for New Mexico is really really bad

As I mentioned, this is the driest start to a water year in a century in Albuquerque. The preliminary Jan. 1 runoff forecast from the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service bears this out. The forecast, based on snow measurements, is stark. NRCS has 40 years of snow records, and for many sites, this is the …

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A brief tutorial in how bad the Colorado River Basin snowpack is right now

Let’s look at the new Colorado Basin River Forecast Center graphic of projected runoff into Lake Powell, shall we? The folks at CBRFC has done a lovely update of their graphical presentation. The story it’s telling right now – not so lovely. Let’s take this step by step. First, the green lines in the middle …

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