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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“We’re in uncharted territory”

Luke Runyon had a piece over the weekend about the latest Bureau of Reclamation 24-month study, the increasingly bleak monthly modeling run that shows Colorado River reservoir levels dipping and diving in a way that the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Jeff Kightlinger described thus: “We’re in uncharted territory for the system,” says Jeff …

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At Glenwood Springs, the fourth driest Colorado River flows in a half century

A typical John Fleck morning these days involves a cup of coffee (or two) and a curlup in the comfy chair as dawn creeps over my backyard while I wander the western United States looking at USGS stream gauges. Today’s gauge-of-the-day is my friend and colleague Eric Kuhn’s, at Glenwood Springs, Colorado. It’s just downstream …

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Circa 1983, an early view of climate change and western water

From New York Times reporter Philip Shabecoff’s October 1983 piece examining some of the more significant findings in a new National Academies report on the implications of climate change: Paul E. Waggoner, a member of the assessment committee, said in an interview that ”people in California will be drinking their water,” instead of using it …

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Drought, climate change – we know more than we used to

Ben Cook, Justin Mankis, and Kevin Anchukaitis have an extremely helpful review paper in Current Climate Change Reports (ungated, thanks) sorting out what we do and don’t know about the impact of climate change on droughts. The IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report was cautious in its assessment of our knowledge of drought, reporting only “low confidence” …

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