On the ecosystem benefits of irrigation systems

One of the conceptual riddles Bob Berrens and I are working through in the new book we’re pursuing on New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande, and the work surrounding it, is the ecosystem goods and services across our valley floor provided by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District’s web of irrigation ditches. Where once we had …

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Watch Live: Tipping Point – The Colorado River Basin

I’m heading to Phoenix tomorrow (Wed. Nov. 10) to appear on what I hope will be a useful PBS Newshour live event: The Colorado River runs nearly fifteen hundred miles, winding through seven states and Mexico. It supplies drinking water to nearly 40 million people, irrigates nearly 4 million acres of farmland and attracts millions …

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Scaling back, even more, in the Lower Colorado River Basin

With the ink barely dry on the ill-named Colorado River “Drought Contingency Plan”, the Lower Basin states (Nevada, Arizona, and California) are already cooking up a Plan C for even deeper reductions. Joanna Allhands at the Arizona Republic has a nice look at what we know about the details: Arizona, California and Nevada are moving …

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Udall: Greater streamflow declines in the southern part of the Colorado River Basin

Heather Sackett did a good story this week on new data Brad Udall has been sharing that geographically parses the declines in streamflow across the Colorado River Basin. For folks like us down here in New Mexico, dependent on the San Juan as a critical source of supply, the news is not good: This month, …

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October 2021 Colorado River 24-Month Studies Shift to a More Realistic, but Troubling Future for Lakes Mead and Powell

By Eric Kuhn The latest Bureau of Reclamation monthly Colorado River modeling runs show an even bigger drop over the next year in Lake Powell’s elevation that previously projected. But this is not an example of bad news getting worse. Instead, a change toward a drier baseline hydrology more accurately reflects the drying of the …

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What might planning for an 11 million acre foot or 10 million acre foot Colorado River look like?

One of the central questions dimly visible in the early discussions around the upcoming renegotiation of the Colorado River’s water operations and allocations rules is the question of how bad a “worst case” scenario should be considered. This is crucial, because it constrains what sort of questions must then be confronted. The lower the future …

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The challenge of meeting a legal and moral obligation to Colorado River Basin tribes

At last week’s Getches-Wilkinson Center conference in Boulder, attorney Jay Weiner, who represents tribes (but was careful to say he was not speaking on any particular tribe’s behalf) made an important point, which is repeated in this excellent piece by Mark Armao this week in Grist: “The basin is free-riding off of undeveloped tribal water …

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Kathryn Sorensen on getting real in the Colorado River Basin

At last week’s Getches-Wilkinson Center conference on Colorado River stuff, I had the privilege of moderating a panel with the provocative title “Time to Get Real”. The opening remarks from Kathryn Sorensen of Arizona State University seemed worth repeating, and she kindly gave me permission to post on the blog (the pictures were her slide …

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Taking climate change seriously: the Colorado River “stress test”

  The Bureau of Reclamation Colorado River team did something remarkable in yesterday’s release of its new 5-year reservoir levels analysis – the “stress test”, a methodology pioneered a decade ago by an Upper Colorado River Basin technical team that included John Carron of Hydros and Eric Kuhn and Dave Kanzer of the Colorado River …

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