disaggregating agriculture

One of the great insights from my University of New Mexico colleague Bob Berrens, chair of the economics department and my predecessor as director of UNM’s Water Resources Program, is the importance of disaggregating agriculture. Much water policy discussion, rightly, revolves around the agriculture-municipal distinction. With ag getting (and needing) a much larger share of …

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Palo Verde Irrigation District sues Metropolitan Water District over Colorado River water

One of California’s largest Colorado River farm water districts is suing the state’s largest municipal water agency, charging that efforts to move farm water to cities are threatening the viability of agriculture in one of the oldest farming valleys on the river. The Palo Verde Irrigation District, in a suit filed last month in Riverside …

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citrus and swimming pools

Some evenings I curl up with a laptop and cruise Calisphere’s orange create label collection. Absent some years away for college, I spent the first three decades of my life in Southern California’s “citrus belt”, that source of the region’s wealth and culture reaching east from Pasadena across the foothills of the San Gabriels to …

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governance, adaptation, and climate change

Much of the “cultural cognition” problem around our climate politics and discourse derives from the politics of “mitigation” – the fact that the tools needed to reduce greenhouse gases are politically (culturally?) abhorrent to some, who in response dismiss the underlying science of climate change. This has the effect of foreclosing the second crucial climate …

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Salton Sea fish, birds, in jeopardy even with more mitigation water

One suggested short term tool to deal with the shrinking Salton Sea is to continue putting in more water. New research suggests that, for fish and birds, it won’t help. “Mitigation water” is jargon for extra water currently diverted to the Salton Sea to make up for reduced agricultural runoff as efficiency improvements. (It’s hairy …

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Desalination and water’s scale issue

A sometimes poorly understood piece of the water story is the question of scale – the truly enormous quantities of water required to do human stuff like be a city or grow our food. This is the shortcoming of well-meaning suggestions like building a pipeline to the Missouri River or a string of desalination plants …

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Imperial Irrigation District is saving a lot of water

There’s something that really jumps out in┬áthe┬áBureau of Reclamation’s final accounting of 2016 Lower Colorado River Basin water use. In May, the Bureau releases the official accounting, which is a meticulous, tedious, closely watched and monitored and argued over report on who used how much water on the Lower Colorado. Much to digest in the …

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When a water supply problem becomes an air quality problem

Matt Weiser (Water Deeply) has a nice interview with Mike Cohen (Pacific Institute) about one of the most interesting policy conundrums in Colorado River Basin water governance – the question of the Salton Sea. Here’s the sequence. California needs to figure out how to use less Colorado River water. Since the biggest chunk of the …

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Using less water on the Lower Colorado River

At the end of April, Lake Mead sat at 1,085 feet above sea level, more than eight feet higher than it was a year ago. That is in part thanks to a big winter upstream, which has ensured continued above-average releases from Lake Powell upstream. But equally important is the fact that folks in the …

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