So how are we going to build these western water markets?

Peter Culp, Robert Glennon and Gary Libecap have published an excellent new analysis of the potential for water markets to help us dig out of the western United States’ water mess: Water trading can facilitate the reallocation of water to meet the demands of changing economies and growing populations. It can play a vital role …

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Phoenix, Lake Mead and “the anticommons”

Here’s a good example of why fixing the west’s water problems is going to be so difficult. Phoenix wants to do something really simple. It currently has more Colorado River water than it needs, and it would like to just leave its unused apportionment in Lake Mead. This seems like a no-brainer – Phoenix gets …

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Mead, Powell monthly data update

It is no surprise that Lake Mead ended the “water year” Sept. 30 at the lowest level it’s been since the government began filling it in the 1930s. Perhaps more importantly, combined storage in the two big reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, ended the water year at its lowest level since 1968, when they …

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The newest Colorado River management widget: the “System Conservation Program”

tl;dr The new Colorado River conservation program may not conserve a whole lot of water. But growing the “civic community” needed to solve the basin’s water problems may be far more important. Longer Version: The Colorado River Pilot System Water Conservation Program crept forward last week, in the process demonstrating an endearing quirk of Colorado …

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Coachella: More California drought resilience

In the latest episode of “whos’ not running out of water in California?” we join Ian James for a visit to the Coachella Valley: [V]ast amounts of water are still flowing as usual to the farms of the Coachella Valley, soaking into the soil to produce lemons and tangelos, grapes, and vegetables from carrots to …

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Gordon Jacoby and the Colorado River: “predicting hydrologic bankruptcy”

In my world, the 1976 tree ring analysis of the Colorado River’s long term flow done by Charles Stockton and Gordon Jacoby stands as one of the great works of policy-relevant science. But by the time I came on the scene, “Stockton and Jacoby”* (pdf) was just a marker, a signpost along our path to …

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In Arizona, talk of water supply augmentation

There’s a long and important history behind Arizona’s enthusiasm for water supply augmentation. The short arm-wave version is Arizona’s belief that part of the Central Arizona Project’s grand bargain was that the Superhot State would accept a junior priority for its CAP water in return for a commitment to water supply augmentation at some unspecified …

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Contingency planning in the Upper Colorado River Basin

Water managers in the Upper Colorado River Basin are beginning to roll out details of their contingency planning aimed at preventing Lake Powell from dropping to troublingly low levels. Among the key steps being discussed, according to a presentation Monday by New Mexico’s Kevin Flanagan to his state’s Interstate Stream Commission (more over on my …

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A mediocre Colorado River Basin forecast

The Climate Prediction Center’s seasonal outlook, published this morning, is another “meh” for the Colorado River Basin. The good news is that odds favor wet for the southerly part of the basin, especially Arizona and New Mexico. The “meh” part is that the low country doesn’t contribute much of the river’s overall supply. Most of …

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