On the importance of getting the boundaries right in water management and governance

I’m working this weekend on two talks, one a webinar Wednesday with Audubon and the other a lecture for UNM Water Resources grad students Thursday, that both touch on one of the fundamental challenges in getting water management right – the question of how we draw the boundaries, both geographically but also conceptually – around …

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Despite drought, California agriculture adds 30,000 jobs

It’s increasingly clear that the lessons we’re learning from California’s drought are not those we expected. Far from the doom of so much of the rhetoric, Californians are adapting to scarcity with remarkable aplomb. The latest data point, from Phillip Reese and Dale Kasler of the Sacramento Bee, may be the most interesting yet: California’s …

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The struggle with municipal water rates in response to conservation

The downside to the remarkable water conservation I’ve been writing about (see yesterday’s Albuquerque numbers, for example) is revenue. Water utilities sell water. If people use less water, water utilities make less money. One option is to shift to more fixed-costs pricing, charging a flat rate for service, but then you lose the behavioral incentive …

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Albuquerque at 127 gallons per person per day – how low can cities go?

I’m giving a talk next week at the CLE Law of the River conference in Las Vegas about what I think is one of the two most important trends in western water management. The first, which we hear a lot about, is the pressure posed by climate change and drought. The second, which I don’t think …

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California ag showing remarkable resilience

Amid the rhetoric of doom, California agriculture has so far been growing its way through drought: Even as many farmers cut back their planting, California’s farm economy overall has been surprisingly resilient. Farm employment increased by more than 1 percent last year. Gross farm revenue from crop production actually increased by two-tenths of 1 percent …

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In Brazil’s drought, compensating the poor

OtPR the other day suggested compensation as drought mitigation: If the goal is drought resilience, we could use money instead of water to keep farm communities intact until a wet year.  If it is important that farm workers in Mendota live decent lives during droughts, we don’t have to find non-existent water for their employers’ farms.  We …

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Annals of adaptation: Cally Carswell on desert cattle

In High Country News, Cally Carswell has a story about the criollo (“a name that is endlessly fun to recite. These are criollo cows. (Try it: cree-oh-yo.)”: There’s anecdotal evidence that criollo will eat more of the shrubs and tougher grasses on degraded grasslands, but no hard data yet on whether that amounts to a …

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stuff I wrote elsewhere: “Depends on what you mean by ‘drought.'”

From the morning paper, an exploration of what we mean by “drought”, with some stuff on the Sheffield Nature paper so talked recently in drought circles, along with the latest grim outlook: “Drought,” University of Arizona research Gregg Garfin said, “is defined by its impacts.” I realize this is a long-winded way of being very …

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