Reclamation is signaling potential for a big drop in Lake Mead over the next several years

Eric Kuhn points out some pretty striking numbers in the latest monthly Bureau of Reclamation Colorado River projections – a million-plus acre foot drop in expected flows on the river as we head into winter. Because of the river’s rules for coordinated operation of Lake Powell and Lake Mead, this translates into a big loss …

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Luke Runyon on the West’s three great zombie water projects

Luke Runyon published a nice piece earlier this week on setbacks to three of the Colorado River Basin’s three great zombie water projects: 2020 has been a tough year for some of the Colorado River basin’s long-planned, most controversial water projects. Proposals to divert water in New Mexico, Nevada and Utah have run up against …

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The Colorado River Basin’s Tanya Trujillo named to Biden Interior transition team

I was delighted to see my friend Tanya Trujillo’s name on the incoming Biden Administration Department of the Interior transition team list released yesterday. Tanya’s a New Mexican, former chief counsel to the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, and current member of the commission. She served as a legislative aide to New Mexico Sen. Jeff …

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Tensions around a wastewater reclamation collaboration in Southern California

There’s some fascinating tension around a proposed wastewater reclamation collaboration in Southern California. The project, if it goes forward, would provide some 150 million gallons per day (~170,000 acre feet per year) of treated effluent. Water now being discharged into the ocean would instead be available for aquifer recharge within Southern California. There are a …

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Climate change and the water policy funnel

Climate change, as I’ve often heard Brad Udall point out, is water change. By that, Brad means that the effect of a changing climate on people and ecosystems is most clearly felt through changes in how much water there is. I’ve been thinking about this question a lot as I work on three related projects …

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The question of reservoir evaporation – How much water are the Lower Colorado River Basin states really using?

The conventional simplification of the Colorado River Compact’s water allocation scheme is that it set aside 7.5 million acre feet of water use for the “exclusive beneficial consumptive use” of the states of the Lower Basin – Nevada, Arizona, and California. In the 21st century, the official accounting shows the Lower Basin states using an …

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The Lake Powell Pipeline and the problems posed by the lack of a Lower Colorado River Basin Compact

By Eric Kuhn As the Colorado River Basin’s managers wrestle with thorny questions around the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline, a colleague who works for a Lower Colorado River Basin water agency recently asked a question that goes to the heart of the future of river management: With land in the Lower Colorado River Basin, why …

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Happy New Water Year, where’d all that Colorado River water go?

Shrouded in pandemic fog, I’m only now getting to my sorta annual “Happy New Water Year!” post, where I traditionally look on in alarm at dropping Colorado River Basin reservoir levels and make fun of the Lower Basin for using too much water. The alarm remains – after a crappy runoff, combined storage in the …

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The “Colorado River Simulation System” and Elinor Ostrom’s “authoritative image of the problem”

Burnishing my notes for UNM Water Resources class this afternoon to talk about Elinor Ostrom, I spent a bit of my morning going back through the underlined bits in my copy of her seminal book Governing the Commons. I first read it in the fall of 2009, when she won the Swedish prize. My initial …

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Six Colorado River Basin States to Interior: Don’t Allow Utah to Blow up Basin Collaboration

The six Colorado River Basin states that do not have the letters “U-T-A-H” in their names just sent a remarkable letter to Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt with a plea – don’t let the rush toward federal approval of Utah’s proposed Lake Powell Pipeline blow up the Colorado River Basin’s framework of collaborative rather …

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