Some more Colorado River 2019 data updates

We’re diving into a semester studying (and modeling) Colorado River management in the University of New Mexico Water Resources Program. We’ve got a smart group of next-generation water managers, and we’ll be using the Goldsim modeling platform to build some system models. The students will be helping me think through the set of questions folks …

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Tracking the Colorado – flow at Lee’s Ferry

One of the things I do with the students in my University of New Mexico Water Resources classes is try to develop the habit of paying attention, through repetition, to the available data on the systems we’re talking about. We use USGS river gauges to do this – checking the gauges is a classroom routine. …

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A rising Lake Mead? Or just hovering around a new elevation line

A member of the Colorado River brain trust argues that when you use reservoir elevation to define an action level of some sort, the reservoir remarkably ends up hovering around that level. The updated annual USBR Lake Mead elevation chart, just published with the 2019 data, nicely illustrates their point. The 2007 Interim Guidelines set …

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The risk of Southern California falling into “perfect drought”

Last year was, for Southern California water management, perfectly wet. By that I mean a good snowpack in the Sierra Nevada and the Colorado River Basin. I’m stealing a wonderful phrase here from a new paper by the University of Arizona’s Connie Woodhouse (the full paper’s behind a paywall): “A Long View of Southern California …

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A dry summer and fall means less water in the Colorado River in the coming year

Despite an above-average snowpack in significant parts of the Colorado River Basin, the initial 2020 forecast is for below-average runoff thanks to a dry summer and fall. According to the Colorado River Basin Forecast Center’s Cody Moser, speaking in today’s first-of-2020 forecast briefings, the monsoon over the Colorado River Basin was the 9th driest and …

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The problems of a rising Lake Mead

The folks running Lake Mead’s marina – often a story line for folks like me writing about a declining western water supply as marina managers chase a shrinking reservoir’s shoreline – are running the opposite direction this year: In 2003, they had to relocate the marina to the south 12 miles because the water was …

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How big was Lake Mead’s “structural deficit” in 2019?

With Lake Mead ending 2019 at elevation 1090.49 feet above sea level – up 9 feet for the year – it’s worth visiting the Bureau of Reclamation’s classic “structural deficit” slide and seeing how it compares to 2019’s real world data. First, a reminder of where the oft-quoted “1.2 million acre foot structural deficit” comes …

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California’s 2019 use of Colorado River water lowest since 1950

While Colorado River water management eyes were focused elsewhere this year – on the big snowpack up north, or the chaos success of the Drought Contingency Plan – California has quietly achieved a remarkable milestone. Its use of Colorado River water in 2019 will be 3.858 million acre feet. The last time it was below …

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