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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A return to flood irrigation in search of environmental benefits

I’ve praised the successful shift from flood irrigation toward more efficient technology – meaning things like center-pivot and drip over flood irrigation – that has enabled a downward trend in the amount of water applied to a typical irrigated acre of farmland in the United States. According to the USGS, US farmers decreased their average …

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The message from the Colorado Delta pulse flow: a little water can go a long way

There’s an important point I try to make when I’m out in public talking about the 2014 Colorado River Delta environmental pulse flow: the amount of water used and the size of the landscape that got wet, compared to the once-vast delta, is tiny. I get excited about the pulse flow, when water managers on …

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Audubon hiring someone to help save the Salton Sea

Audubon is looking to hire someone to help save the Salton Sea. It’s a great twofer – you get to help the birds, and if you succeed you also get to help save Colorado River manage as a whole, as the two are integrally related. If we fail to get the Salton Sea right, everything …

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Urban water, urban birds

When I’m in Phoenix, I always try to squeeze out some time to go birding at the Gilbert Water Ranch, a constructed wetland where practical water management has been turned into a lovely urban amenity. A fascinating new project by Arizona State University graduate student Riley Burnette (pdf) attempts to quantify the role that the …

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Sorting out the Salton Sea mess

I joke that I kept trying to leave the Salton Sea out of my book, because it’s such a hairy problem that in threatened to derail me in so many ways. Of course I failed, because the Sea is a critical piece of solving the distributional problems of scarce Colorado River water. Agricultural reductions in …

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Stuff I wrote elsewhere about deceptive bird sex

The best part of doing this story was standing by the Rio Grande at dusk with Chris Witt, watching the sandhill cranes fly in to roost. The birds were great, but the really extraordinary part was watching Chris watch them – eyes flitting, counting, listening and hearing. As they flew by, they announced their presence …

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One more hummingbird picture

Sorry, can’t resist posting one more hummingbird picture. The rufous, on the left, have just finally arrived at our house. They’re usually earlier in the summer, and they’re very aggressive, driving away the black-chins who have been here since late spring. Moments after this picture was snapped, the rufous drove the black-chin away: