As Lake Mead drops, Las Vegas plays the long game

Even with the release of extra water from upstream reservoirs, Lake Mead outside Las Vegas is forecast to continue dropping in 2015 and into 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s latest monthly “24-Month Study” (pdf). At this point, as Lake Mead drifts deeper into record emptiness, it goes without saying that the big …

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Coming, not quite so soon: Beyond the Water Wars

So the folks at Island Press will be publishing my book, tentatively titled Beyond the Water Wars, about the problems facing the Colorado River Basin and how we might fix them. I couldn’t be happier. Its basic themes will be familiar to readers of this blog – the end of the age of fat reservoirs and full …

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First Colorado delta pulse flow science findings

The International Boundary and Water Commission today released its initial science report (pdf) on this spring’s Colorado River pulse flow. A few key bits: When you add water, stuff grows. Satellite imagery in June ’14 compared to a year earlier showed a 36 percent increase in the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index. The NDVI increased in all …

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How to solve the Colorado River’s problems, or not

tl;dr Everyone on the Colorado River has a legitimate argument that they’ve already sacrificed, and that they have a legal entitlement to what’s left. If everyone digs in their heels on these points, the system will crash. We need to be willing to share the pain. But (scroll to the bottom) there is hope on that …

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“the robbery of Arizona’s birthright”

The people of Arizona have come to look upon the officials of California, and particularly those of the Imperial Irrigation District and the Metropolitan Water District of Los Angeles as diabolical schemers who are dedicated to the robbery of Arizona’s birthright. That’s sometime Arizona political scientist Dean Mann, talking about the 20th century California-Arizona tussle …

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Colorado River Research Group

A new collaboration among some of the serious names in Colorado River Basin water science and policy today launched a new project, the Colorado River Research Group. If you follow Colorado River issues and western water science policy, it’s a list of names (pdf) you’ll be familiar with and, more importantly, that you’ll want to …

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IID to state of California on Salton Sea restoration: “But you guys promised!”

The Imperial Irrigation District earlier this month threw down a significant marker in the ongoing struggle to deal back overuse of Colorado River water with a petition to the California State Water Resources Control Board demanding action on restoration of the Salton Sea. The sea’s decline is one of the knock-on effects of efforts to …

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Water buffalos – embracing the pejorative?

I tend to hear the term “water buffalo” as pejorative – the old, lumbering water managers of a bygone era of dam-building and overconsumption. Not so, say the folks at the Central Arizona Project: Just what is a water buffalo? In Arizona, they are those iconic figures who had the foresight to plan ahead to …

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In the Colorado River Basin, a slow start to the 2014-15 water year

We’re about 20 percent of the way into the fall-winter-spring snow accumulation season in the Colorado River Basin, and the current snowpack upstream of Lake Powell as estimated by the CBRFC is 61 percent of average: It is worth remembering, as the Bureau of Reclamation notes in its weekly water supply report (pdf), that “values …

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A Halloween treat: Lake Mead’s not quite as empty as we expected

I was wrong when I wrote in April that Lake Mead would continue to set “lowest ever for this point in the year” records for all of 2014. As I write this, with a few hours left in October, Mead’s surface elevation is 1,082.79 feet above seal level. That is more than five whole inches above …

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