ACLU steps into Gila Case

As near as I can tell, the American Civil Liberties Union has no particular stake in water policy. But the venerable champion of free speech is wading into the rancorous New Mexico debate over the possible diversion of water from the Gila River. Lauren Villagran writes (behind surveywall): The American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday …

Continue reading ‘ACLU steps into Gila Case’ »

Hoover Dam, sinking

Fourteen years after Hoover Dam’s gates were closed, U.S. Geological Survey scientists found earth’s crust beneath the dam had sunk 4 inches because of the weight of its impounded water: That’s from Geological Survey Circular 346, First Fourteen Years of Lake Mead, 1954 (pdf), ht Kyle House

Transparency and the Colorado River Compact

The negotiation of the 1922 Colorado River Compact governing the allocation of water from the West’s great river, and the ratification process that followed, was a politically delicate process. Precisely how delicate is made clear in a fascinating exchange of letters 10 years after between Colorado attorney Delph Carpenter (the compact’s primary architect) and Norcutt …

Continue reading ‘Transparency and the Colorado River Compact’ »

Colorado River federal policy in the CRomnibus

Reed Benson has read the CRomnibus, the ginormous federal spending bill approved late last year as Congress was heading out the door, and helpfully digested some of the key water policy bits so the rest of us don’t have to. For the Colorado River, the bill… allows the Bureau to “fund or participate in pilot …

Continue reading ‘Colorado River federal policy in the CRomnibus’ »

Megdal on the lower Colorado’s “structural deficit”

Arizona’s superwaterwonk Sharon Megdal on the Colorado River’s “structural deficit”: We have a problem. Arizona, California and Nevada together use more water than normally flows to us. This is called structural deficit. It’s like living on a budget that regularly exceeds your income. The piece has lots more in it, a good lay primer on …

Continue reading ‘Megdal on the lower Colorado’s “structural deficit”’ »

Stuff I wrote elsewhere: first-ever San Juan Chama Project shortfall

The standard Bureau of Reclamation map of the Colorado River Basin has a series of red-dashed slivers beyond the physical boundaries of the basin itself, the places where we’ve chosen to artificially extend the watershed’s boundaries. In the process, we have created entire communities dependent on the success or failure of the basin’s water management …

Continue reading ‘Stuff I wrote elsewhere: first-ever San Juan Chama Project shortfall’ »

Lake Mead in 2014 headed for second biggest drop in modern era

With just a few days left, it looks like Lake Mead will end 2014 down 19 feet, which would be the second biggest one-year drop of the “modern era” (the years since completion of Glen Canyon Dam upstream damped down the river’s ups and downs). With inflow largely regulated by Glen Canyon Dam and outflow largely …

Continue reading ‘Lake Mead in 2014 headed for second biggest drop in modern era’ »

Lake Mead: 40 percent full, or 60 percent empty?

Annie Snider left an excellent summary in our Christmas stocking of the state of play on the Colorado River. Lake Mead approaches the end of the Calendar year at elevation 1,087 feet above sea level, which is nearly 20 feet below last year at this time, as basin water managers scramble to build new institutional widgets …

Continue reading ‘Lake Mead: 40 percent full, or 60 percent empty?’ »

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 …

Continue reading ‘As Lake Mead drops, Las Vegas plays the long game’ »