The path to Colorado River collaboration is narrow, but we remain on it

Amid the Sturm und Drang of Arizona’s struggle to find a path to reduce its Colorado River water use in the face of a federal ultimatum, I lost sight of an important point. With last week’s legislative approval, Arizona has now agreed to a plan that could eventually reduce the Central Arizona Project’s flow of …

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How things stand now that the Arizona legislature has approved the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan

New plan: a temporary tattoo that reads, “CLOSE IS NOT DONE.” That was Commissioner of Reclamation Brenda Burman’s talking point during a press call this morning explaining what happens next now that we all turned into DCP-less pumpkins last night at midnight. The Arizona legislature gave its last-minute approval late yesterday (hilariously, as I was …

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Fall 2019, University of Arizona Press – Science Be Dammed: How Ignoring Inconvenient Science Drained the Colorado River, by Eric Kuhn and John Fleck

USGS hydrologist Eugene Clyde LaRue’s December 1925 testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Irrigation and Reclamation set my storyteller’s nerves tingling. It was a critical moment in the history of the West, as Congress deliberated turning the abstract water allocation rules of the Colorado River Compact into appropriations and concrete. Y’all probably know the …

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No, Lake Powell is not inexorably headed toward “dead pool”

Here is some data about Lake Powell, the big Colorado River reservoir straddling the Arizona-Utah border. Since 2005, the average estimated “natural flow” of the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry has been 13.5 million acre feet per year, well below the 14.8maf average since 1906. So yes, it’s been dry. Since 2005, releases from Lake …

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On Sunday, I crashed Lake Mead.

Sunday afternoon, I crashed Lake Mead. This was not difficult. Each spring, UNM Water Resources Program students do a case study of a river basin as they’re learning dynamic simulation modeling, linking hydrology, economics, and rules. This year, we’re doing the Lower Colorado River Basin. In the WRP curriculum, we’re big on understanding the rules …

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MWD increases its Lake Mead withdrawals

@mwdh2o has moved to a six pump flow on the Colorado River Aqueduct to start the new year in case the Drought Contingency Plan not finalized. Can’t afford to leave 5-600,000 AF of ICS storage stuck in Lake Mead if we go into shortage. — Jeffrey Kightlinger (@8thGenCA) January 5, 2019 For background: Meanwhile the …

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Happy New Year, Lake Mead dropped another foot in 2018

By the numbers, Lake Mead began 2019 at elevation 1,081.47 feet above sea level, down a foot in 2018. This comes in spite of yet another Upper Basin release of 9 million acre feet from Glen Canyon Dam last year, an extra 770,000 acre feet above the 8.23 million acre feet the Lower Basin can …

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DCP by the numbers

I’m forever needing to look up these numbers, sticking them here so I can find them easily, and y’all can as well. It’s the cuts by Lake Mead elevation levels for the various parties under the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan and the related Minute 323 between the U.S. and Mexico: