Gila River diversion being significantly downscaled

We now have an answer to the question of where the money will come from for a billion dollar diversion to take water from the Gila River, a Colorado River tributary in southwestern New Mexico. Nowhere. Laura Paskus has the scoop on this week’s decision by the project’s governing body to abandon the Cadillac versions …

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Unsettled questions about Native American water rights in the Colorado River Basin

More than a dozen Native American communities in the Colorado River Basin have yet to have their legal entitlements to a share of the river’s water quantified, according to a new report from the Colorado River Research Group. With the river’s water already over-appropriated (meaning users, largely non-Indian, have built farms and cities that have …

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New outlook shifts odds slightly toward dry 2016-17 across Colorado River Basin

At the risk of driving faster than is prudent on a twisty mountain road at night, the new 2016-17 climate outlook released yesterday does not look particularly encouraging for the Colorado River Basin: That’s December 2016 – February 2017. Browns mean odds are shifted toward dry. A reminder that the maps can be a little …

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Have we stabilized the Colorado River’s water supplies?

It’s a bait and switch. The answer is “no”. (It always is when it ends with a question mark. See Betteridge’s Law of Headlines.) But as I report in my water newsletter, there are some encouraging signs that we’re moving in the right direction. You can subscribe to the newsletter, which is supposed to come …

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With Colorado River water, growing peppers

I’m not sure I would be as sanguine as this Coachella pepper packer about the long term availability of water: The process of producing peppers is both simple and complicated.  “Workers, water, weather–those are our three big headaches,” Aiton says. Aiton says while water is a concern in the state, it’s not as critical in …

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A new, less doomy cover for my book

Striking the right tone in my about-to-appear-on-the-shelves book on Colorado River water management was tricky. The problems are serious, but I am optimistic about our ability to solve them, and in the book I try to lay out both the nature of the problems but also what the solutions can and do look like. It’s …

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Lower Colorado water use forecast to be lowest in two decades

We’ve had a healthy freakout over the last couple of weeks about the fact that Lake Mead, the nation’s largest and iconic water supply reservoir, is (again) at its lowest point in history (meaning the lowest since they built it in the 1930s). Brad Plumer has a good summary of what’s what. It’s an important …

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On the Great Lakes, a trans-basin diversion discussion

For those of us in the western United States accustomed to the large scale movement of water from one river basin to another via tunnels, pumps, and the like, the current discussion about water supplies for Waukesha, Wisconsin, is a fascinating case study. As I write this, I’m drinking from a glass of Albuquerque tap …

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Melons, boats, fish: the new Tusher Dam on the Green

Brian Maffly writes this week about the new Tusher Dam on the Green River, a little diversion structure that diverts water to a bit more than 5,000 acres that apparently grows delicious melons. The old dam was in trouble, and the new one has been crafted to expand the range of natural and societal values …

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Is the Colorado River community nearing a water-saving deal?

A flurry of public discussion over the last week about a possible water conservation deal on the Lower Colorado River illustrates the central dilemma in the river basin’s water use problems. tl;dr This is a very important agreement. Modeling suggests that, if implemented, it could slow the steep decline in Lake Mead. The water conservation …

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