Hey Tucson, I’ll be yammering at the University of Arizona Thursday

Thursday at 4: With another dry year setting in across the West, the challenges of meeting the water supply needs of a growing population while maintaining our rural communities and a healthy environment are again being thrown in sharp relief. The continuing decline of Lake Mead has become a symbol of deepening problems, but there are also …

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Keeping Colorado’s Crystal River wet

Sarah Tory had an interesting piece Friday about an effort to keep water in Colorado’s Crystal River, a tributary of the Roaring Fork (Carbondale area, or Aspen for those of a certain geographical bent). Tory’s piece does a good job of explaining the institutional complexities of an agreement that spans potentially both opportunities for exploiting …

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The central challenge on the Colorado River

I’ve been thinking about the central communication challenge as we face down yet another dry year amid the continued drumbeat of Upper Basin talk about finding new ways to take more water out of the Colorado River. It goes back to something I wrote in my book: Within the network of state and water-agency representatives …

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#tbt to that time New Mexico tried to demand a Gila River Compact

For today’s #tbt (Throwback Thursday), a return to the remarkable era of Steve Reynolds in New Mexico water management, and that time Reynolds tried to give New Mexico an effective veto over the Central Arizona Project. Students in this year’s UNM Water Resources Program spring class are doing a case study this year on New …

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What Did We Know and When Did We Know It: How Much Water Does the Colorado River Really Have?

I’ll be yammering in public Thursday in Albuquerque, y’all should come! What Did We Know and When Did We Know It: How Much Water Does the Colorado River Really Have? In retrospect, it is clear that the 1922 Colorado River Compact was negotiated during a historically wet period, and that as a result the agreement …

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Initial forecast: Lakes Mead and Powell headed for record low in 2018

With an underwhelming snowpack right now, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s initial 2018 forecast (pdf here) projects combined storage in Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the two primary reservoirs on the Colorado River, will drop to 21.7 million acre feet by the end of 2018. That would be the lowest Mead/Powell combined year end storage …

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On the need for federal legislation to implement Colorado River drought plans

Eric Kuhn* of the Colorado River District wrote an interesting memo (pdf here) for his board’s meeting next week that lays out the options and reasoning behind current discussions about whether federal legislation will be needed to implement Colorado River Basin drought plans. The “Law of the River”, which governs allocation, distribution, and management of …

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What happened in the Colorado River Basin in the winter of 1976-77?

At yesterday’s monthly Colorado Basin River Forecast Center briefing, Greg Smith noted, by way of analogy, the winter of 1976-77. Smith explained that he wasn’t forecasting – the fact that the evolution of this year’s forecast is similar to 1976-77 doesn’t mean that the rest of this year will be like that year, or that …

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Overcoming “use it or lose it” on the Colorado River

The “use it or lose it” problem in western water happens when water users who conserve are penalized by having the saved water simply go to another user. A series of policy innovations over the last decade to overcome this problem are showing up right now in a big way in Lake Mead. In all, …

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