California names someone to solve the Salton Sea mess

Just when I think I’ve got the Colorado River Basin’s problems all sorted out, I keep bumping up against this crazy Salton Sea thing. This USDA Cropscape landcover map really nicely illustrates the geography of the thing. The brightly colored bits are the irrigated agriculture of the Imperial Irrigation District. Agricultural runoff flows to the …

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Cliff Dahm returns to Sacramento to help sort out the delta mess

I’ve begun putting scare quotes around “retirement” for some of my University of New Mexico water mentors. To that list, add Cliff Dahm, the ecologist and Inkstain brain trust member whose “retirement” party in May paved the way for this: SACRAMENTO – Dr. Clifford Dahm, an internationally recognized expert in aquatic ecology, climatology, restoration biology, …

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Another Southern California ag to municipal water sharing deal takes shape

The Imperial Irrigation District’s board tomorrow will consider an expanded agreement with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California that would provide additional flexibility for water conservation in the big desert agricultural district and move water to meet near term drought response needs in the region’s coastal cities. The deal uses the “Intentionally Created Surplus” …

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In pursuit of resilience, it helps to be rich

“Resilience”, as defined by these folks, is a useful framework for understanding drought and water management. The goal is a system that can withstand shock and retain its basic structure and function. For example by that metric, as Charles Fishman has pointed out, California during the current drought has demonstrated resilience. New Orleans and Katrina …

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In Monson, Calif., where the drought problem is really a poverty problem

Brett Walton returns to Monson, Calif., to visit a community losing its water, and finds some signs of hope, but serious problems yet: An unincorporated rectangle of land in Tulare County, tiny Monson, home to no more than 200 people, became an international symbol of the rural heartache that is flowing from California’s drought wound. …

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In California, clarifying what we mean by “drought”

Preparing for a lecture for next week for the University of New Mexico Water Resources Program class I’m co-teaching, I’m having the students read this piece by my drought guru Kelly Redmond: Most concepts of drought involve a water balance. This implies that both supply and demand must be considered, as well as the question …

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Colorado River produce in Albuquerque (courtesy Fisher Ranch)

Lissa spotted this California desert treat this morning at Trader Joe’s in Albuquerque: It’s a cantaloupe from Fisher Ranch in Blythe, Calif., owned by Bart Fisher, vice president of the Palo Verde Irrigation District board and chairman of the Colorado River Board of California. I pronounce this a fine use of senior Colorado River water …

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Palo Verde: what Colorado Basin water problem solving looks like

Tony Perry in the Los Angeles Times had a good story this weekend talking about the agreement between the Palo Verde Irrigation District and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to move ag water to city use in the cities’ time of need: Next year the agreement between MWD and the Palo Verde Irrigation …

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The hidden value of the California drought

Brett Walton: The value of the California drought, painful as it is, is that the state’s citizens are beginning to ask the sorts of questions that might previously have been confined to a conference room. Who gets water? How much? Who decides? What is valuable – economically, socially, ecologically – about rebuilding a wetland, or …

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Imperial, Coachella, and the Salton Sea, from Gemini V, August 1965

The Imperial County Agriculture 1965, one in a series of reports I’ve been reading on the history of ag production in the California desert, has an insanely cool picture on its cover that sent me down the NASA rabbit hole. It’s kind of grainy, a picture of Imperial from space labeled “Gemini V Official NASA …

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