Creating a conservation storage pool in Lake Powell

It’s apparently Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan week! Documents here. This is when we all gather around and try to make sense of the sweeping effort to ratchet up efforts to reduce Colorado River water use to keep the system from crashing. The plan you see before you is really not that different, at the …

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Tough to be a fish in the Colorado River

As Lake Powell drops, a waterfall forms at the reservoir’s upper end as the San Juan cuts down through sediments dropped when the reservoir was fuller. The resulting waterfall is a bit of an obstacle to fish: The razorback sucker population estimate for 2017 alone was 755 individuals and, relative to recent population estimates ranging …

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Don’t forget Lake Powell

From 2000 through the end of 2018 (projected), Lake Powell’s elevation will have dropped approximately 94 feet despite Upper Basin consumption only averaging about 4.5 million acre?feet (maf)/year. Several particularly dry years—including 2018—in a process of continuing aridification contributed to the drop, but ultimately it is the operational rules that are slowly but surely draining …

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Colorado River shortage looming because Lower Basin is using too much water

tl;dr The Lower Colorado River Basin has gotten 10 million acre feet of “bonus water” since 2000, above and beyond its entitlement under the Colorado River Compact. But we’re about to have a formal shortage declaration because the Lower Basin keeps using more water than it perhaps ought to. (bad words in earlier draft deleted) …

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For central Arizona farmers, coming to terms with the reality that a Colorado River allocation is not an entitlement

As Arizona wrestles with the reality that its Colorado River supply as measured in actual wet water rather than the “paper water” doled out by the Law of the River, we’re getting a lesson in the difference between an “allocation” of Colorado River water and an “entitlement”. The place to watch this play out right …

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New USBR modeling suggests a bigger risk of Colorado River shortage than y’all might think

The conventional calculation of Colorado River shortage risk, which people like me frequently report, shows a 51 percent chance of Lake Mead dropping into “shortage”, below the magic trip line of elevation 1,075 at which mandatory cutbacks kick in, in 2020. But a new approach to modeling risk, which lots of folks (*cough* me *cough*) …

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Upper Colorado River Commission ending participation in the System Conservation Pilot Program

The Upper Colorado River Commission, at its meeting this afternoon (Wed. June 20, 2018) in Santa Fe, voted to end its participation in the Colorado River System Conservation Pilot Program, in which water users, mostly farmers, were compensated for conservation measures in an effort to create “system water”. “System water” is a tricky concept, and …

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