Following the Rio Colorado west

I took a break today from the excitement of following a newly rejuvenated Colorado River south, across the border into Mexico, where it rarely flows, and followed “the river” west instead. Forty-nine river miles upstream from the “Southern International Boundary” – essentially the bridge at San Luis Rio Colorado – a structure known as Imperial …

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Why is Paso Robles failing to self-regulate groundwater?

As California struggles against the problems posed by its current drought, there has been a great deal of attention paid to the lack of groundwater regulation. Melody Gutierrez has a great example today, from Paso Robles: How scant has the crucial underground water supply become around the San Luis Obispo County city? Sue Luft can …

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When the “plumbing” metaphor breaks down

I’ve often written about the ways in which our rivers in the western United States have become like plumbing (and here, here, and especially here). But one of the most interesting things to me about metaphors is when you push them to too hard. You can learn a lot at the point where the metaphor breaks …

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Climate change in the West: it’s not just about more or less rain

Ben Cook at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies has a new paper that offers a reminder of why the impact of climate change on our ecosystems and water supplies involves more than “will it rain less”? In some sense this is an old and obvious point, which I link here just to repeat said …

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Drought means we should do that thing I already knew we should do

Mark Lubell at U.C. Davis has a fascinating post about the history and politics of drought: [N]early every scientist, commentator, and politician is using drought to make some call for their preferred political change. Regulate groundwater. More storage. Build the twin tunnels. Pass the long-delayed water bond. So given that we’ve been here before (click …

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On drought and spreading risk

The anthropologist William Abruzzi wrote a fascinating essay some years ago explaining the success of early Mormon agriculture in the Little Colorado River Basin, one of the more bad-assed desert environments in which one might want to do one’s 19th century, pre-federal-irrigation-subsidy farming. Holbrook, which spans the Little Colorado, averages a bit more than 8 …

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California’s water policy failings on display, but is there a lesson of success here as well?

tl;dr While Northern California flounders, Southern California’s drought planning kicks in as Met taps into its Lake Mead water savings bank Brett Walton, writing about President Obama’s visit to California’s drought-stricken Central Valley, captured that state’s water policy dilemma: “It can’t just be a matter of there’s going to be less and less water so …

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