Yuma’s economy in a single photo

People I talked to on my recent trip to Yuma repeatedly ticked off the three components of the regional economy: ag federal (mostly military) tourism If you count me as “3” on a Gila main canal ditch bank as a squadron of military helicopters flew over, this picture captures them all. I think it’s fair …

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1080.18: Lake Mead breaks another record, lowest since it was filled

At the 7 p.m. Pacific Time reading this evening, the surface elevation of Lake Mead dropped to 1080.18 feet above sea level, surpassing the previous low set last August to mark the lowest the big Colorado River Reservoir has been since it was filled in the 1930s: The record came as Hoover Dam’s operators ramped …

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“I’m stuck in my ways.”

It was only when I was captioning and filing my pictures from my recent tours of the old bits of Arizona’s Lower Colorado River water infrastructure that I noticed what the graffiti here said: “I’m stuck in my ways.” It’s a surreal spot – springing from the side of a harsh desert canyon, a remarkable …

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Lake Mead, always with the record setting lows

As I write, the surface elevation of Lake Mead is 2 1/2 inches away from setting yet another record for its lowest levels since it was filled in the 1930s. Henry Brean, with characteristic flair, writes that the threshold will likely be crossed Sunday: The last time Lake Mead was this low was May 1937, …

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In a Colorado River shortage, Central Arizona will be fine for now

The folks at the Central Arizona Project and Arizona Department of Water Resources held a workshop yesterday to discuss the implications of Colorado River shortage. I didn’t have time to get down there, but Summer Pauli covered the basic message for Cronkite News Service: Arizona’s communities, industries, mines and Native American tribes aren’t likely to …

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Lake Powell spring runoff forecast this year now less than half of average

At the risk of nickel-and-diming you with bad forecast news, today’s Bureau of Reclamation mid-month report is bad forecast news. April-July flow into Lake Powell is now forecast to be just 3.4 million acre feet, 47 percent of average (pdf). That’s down from 3.75 maf (52 percent) just two weeks ago. Runoff for the full …

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The Upper Basin: the Colorado River shortage that has already happened

Mike Cohen of the Pacific Institute, in some conversations last week sparked by my post about the risk of what we often call the “first ever” shortage in the Colorado River Basin, points out that shortages in fact are routine in the river’s Upper Basin. This is a result of hydrology. The Lower Basin – …

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Southwest monsoon!

Sorry, that was a clickbait headline. Let me walk it back: Odds shifted slightly toward a wetter Southwest monsoon this summer!   The usual forecast explainer: this shifts the odds from the climatological one-in-three-years-is-wet statistical binning to a 33-40 percent chance of wet in the light green area, upwards of 40 percent in the dark …

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Lake Powell takes a big hit in latest Bureau forecast

More than a million acre feet of water disappeared from Lake Powell in the latest U.S. Bureau of Reclamation operational forecast for the 2015 water year, translating to a 13 foot drop in the big Colorado River reservoir’s projected end-of-September elevation in this month’s forecast compared to just a month ago. The change in this …

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Karl Flessa on the Colorado River pulse flow, one year on

Vanessa Barchfield: University of Arizona geoscientist Karl Flessa said Tuesday that the eight-week flooding helped to germinate and establish cottonwoods and willows that will live for up to 50 years, demonstrating that even a small amount of water can have long-lasting effects on an ecosystem. But, Flessa said, the impact of the water varied. “In …

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