The problem of expectations

Felicia Marcus on the West’s water problems: The problem with vast water negotiations like the Colorado River Compact, said Marcus, the Stanford water policy expert, is that every entity, from governments down to people watering their lawns, come to expect the current amount of available water — even if that availability is an outlier or …

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On the value of Colorado River Beat reporting

On a Zoom call with a group of Colorado River brain trusters this morning, there was a realization that we’d all been talking in recent weeks to the same reporters. Sometimes it’s someone new to the issues, looking for help with a single story. With dropping reservoirs, several pressing near-term political and policy questions, and …

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Striking new study suggests how deeply we’ll need to reduce our use of Colorado River water

Stabilizing Colorado River reservoir levels under even moderate drought/climate change scenarios will require deeper water use reductions than basin managers have to date been willing to contemplate (at least publicly), according to a new analysis by researchers at the the Futures of the Colorado River project, based at Utah State. Led by highly respected veteran …

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Reclamation is signaling potential for a big drop in Lake Mead over the next several years

Eric Kuhn points out some pretty striking numbers in the latest monthly Bureau of Reclamation Colorado River projections – a million-plus acre foot drop in expected flows on the river as we head into winter. Because of the river’s rules for coordinated operation of Lake Powell and Lake Mead, this translates into a big loss …

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Luke Runyon on the West’s three great zombie water projects

Luke Runyon published a nice piece earlier this week on setbacks to three of the Colorado River Basin’s three great zombie water projects: 2020 has been a tough year for some of the Colorado River basin’s long-planned, most controversial water projects. Proposals to divert water in New Mexico, Nevada and Utah have run up against …

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The Colorado River Basin’s Tanya Trujillo named to Biden Interior transition team

I was delighted to see my friend Tanya Trujillo’s name on the incoming Biden Administration Department of the Interior transition team list released yesterday. Tanya’s a New Mexican, former chief counsel to the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, and current member of the commission. She served as a legislative aide to New Mexico Sen. Jeff …

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Tensions around a wastewater reclamation collaboration in Southern California

There’s some fascinating tension around a proposed wastewater reclamation collaboration in Southern California. The project, if it goes forward, would provide some 150 million gallons per day (~170,000 acre feet per year) of treated effluent. Water now being discharged into the ocean would instead be available for aquifer recharge within Southern California. There are a …

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Climate change and the water policy funnel

Climate change, as I’ve often heard Brad Udall point out, is water change. By that, Brad means that the effect of a changing climate on people and ecosystems is most clearly felt through changes in how much water there is. I’ve been thinking about this question a lot as I work on three related projects …

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The question of reservoir evaporation – How much water are the Lower Colorado River Basin states really using?

The conventional simplification of the Colorado River Compact’s water allocation scheme is that it set aside 7.5 million acre feet of water use for the “exclusive beneficial consumptive use” of the states of the Lower Basin – Nevada, Arizona, and California. In the 21st century, the official accounting shows the Lower Basin states using an …

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The Lake Powell Pipeline and the problems posed by the lack of a Lower Colorado River Basin Compact

By Eric Kuhn As the Colorado River Basin’s managers wrestle with thorny questions around the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline, a colleague who works for a Lower Colorado River Basin water agency recently asked a question that goes to the heart of the future of river management: With land in the Lower Colorado River Basin, why …

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