The Ciénega de Santa Clara and the question of “waste”

It’s important to be clear of what we mean by “waste” when we talk about “wasting” water. Because it’s always going someplace, and doing something. In Albuquerque, for example, we talk about reusing effluent from our sewage treatment plant. But we currently treat that water and put it back in the Rio Grande, where it …

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Is San Diego reviving the idea of building its own Colorado River Aqueduct?

A cryptic item in the agenda for Thursday’s meeting of the San Diego Water Authority Board suggests the agency may still harbor an interest in having its own canal to the Colorado River, separate from the current system through which it gets its Colorado River water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. alternative …

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A Good Runoff Forecast; The Language We Use

The Colorado Basin River Forecast Center’s April 1 forecast is up 1.9 million feet from a month earlier. How to think about how much water that is? A friend who thinks a lot about water and public communication, but who is not from the Colorado River Basin, was commenting recently on our euphemisms – the …

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Imperial, the Salton Sea, and the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan

Tuesday was a remarkable day for Colorado River Basin governance. The Good With the kinda sorta now approved Drought Contingency Plan, we have the first formal commitment from the basin states to quantified water use cutbacks of more than a million acre feet per year as Lake Mead drops. With important caveats, this is enough …

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We seem to have a Colorado River water use cutback plan, without the river’s largest user

From Janet Wilson at the Desert Sun: The Colorado River Board of California voted 8-1-1 Monday to sign on to a multi-state drought contingency plan, which, somewhat ironically, might not be needed for two years because of an exceptionally wet winter. The process was fractious until the very end, with blistering rebukes from the river’s largest water user, and charges that …

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Water is For Fighting Over, out in paperback tomorrow

Publishing a book is a weird exercise in time shifting. Last fall, I was finishing Science be Dammed, the new Eric Kuhn-John Fleck book, while simultaneously working on a new afterward afterword to Water is for Fighting Over, out in paperback, well, tomorrow. My friends at Island Press helpfully reminded me this morning that it …

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For now, a Lake Mead “shortage” is off the table

The booming Rocky Mountain snowpack has eliminated the risk of a formal Lake Mead “shortage” declaration in 2020, and has substantially reduced the risk in 2021, according to the latest Bureau of Reclamation 24-month study. More importantly, in my view, is the reduction of a longer term risk of a legal battle over the Upper …

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What a good water year looks like

One of the many reasons the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California interests me so much is the way that it integrates much of the complexities of water management in the western United States. By drawing supplies from the Sierra Nevada as well as the Colorado River Basin, it links the two largest arid-west ag-urban …

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