Walton on native water rights in the Colorado River Basin

Brett Walton has done us all a great service with a thorough look at the issues surrounding Native American water rights in the Colorado River Basin. Importantly, he’s looking at it not just as a problem, but as an example of what the solution space can look like. The stuff from Kathryn Sorensen, Phoenix’s water …

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Some thoughts on the bathtub ring and Lake Mead’s historic drop below 1,075

I’ve had my head down the last ten days reading and writing about 1940s and ’50s-era Los Angeles water management, and I look up to see that Lake Mead last week dropped below elevation 1,075, a level freighted with meaning. But what meaning, exactly? Drew Beckwith at Western Resource Advocates, in Caitlin McGlade’s story, wins for …

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Arizona’s Colorado River zeitgeist

In this morning’s Arizona Star, Tucson journalist Tony Davis asks, “Is California trying to take our water?” In journalism, there’s a joke known as “Betteridge’s Law“: “Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.” As Tony’s story strongly suggests, the notion making the rounds these days in some Arizona political …

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Halfway through June, another million acre feet on the Colorado River

The June mid-month forecast from the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center is up a million acre feet from June 1. Total April-July inflow into Lake Powell is now projected to be 6 million acre feet, up from 5 million acre feet forecast on June 1. That’s still below average, just 84 percent of the mean. …

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Taking more water from the Colorado River’s upper basin

Wyoming is pursuing federal legislation to take another 150,000 acre feet per year from its share of the Colorado River’s Upper Basin allotment: If successful, the project would allow the state to use the bulk of its remaining allocation under the Colorado River Compact, diverting another 149,600 acre-feet from the Green River annually, according to …

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San Juan-Chama project shortfall (trust me, it’s good news!)

For the second year in a row, New Mexico’s San Juan-Chama Project contractors (the biggest of which are the Albuquerque and Santa Fe metro areas) won’t get their full allocation of Colorado River Basin transboundary deliveries this year. But with the amazingly wet May and June, it could have been a whole lot worse. I’m …

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Friendly reminder: don’t freak out when Lake Mead drops below 1,075

Your friendly reminder: don’t freak out when Lake Mead drops below surface elevation 1,075 in the next few days. We don’t have a Lower Colorado River Basin “shortage”* yet, and likely won’t have for a couple more years. What counts is the August forecast of the January 1 level. Mead is forecast to drop below …

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Kenney on the West’s water problems

The University of Colorado’s Doug Kenney, who tends to be pessimistic about the Colorado River Basin’s water management problems, did find something optimistic to say in a Guardian op ed today: The situation isn’t hopeless. In Southern California, for example, the massive Imperial Irrigation District transfers water to drought-stricken communities in Los Angeles and San …

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Water policy innovation in Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Water Knife”

Fiction can provide a useful framework for thinking through alternative approaches to real problems. In that regard, I’m enjoying Paolo Bacigalupi’s new novel The Water Knife. Set in the near future Colorado River Basin, the book makes water management seem genuinely exciting. I’ll avoid spoilers, but try to give some flavor. The opening scene involves the …

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