the paradoxes of irrigation efficiency

The University of New Mexico water posse had a great visit yesterday with Christopher Scott, the new director of the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at the University of Arizona. Scott spoke a couple of times and met with students at our Community and Regional Planning program, who have been doing a lot …

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Lower Colorado – America’s “most endangered river”

The environmental group American Rivers today declared the Lower Colorado River America’s “most endangered river“. The web page announcing this is fascinating. The pictures are not of iconic desert canyons and pristine rivers. They are of farmers. Growing food. A reminder of the multiplicity of values with which we embrace the importance of rivers.

Glen Canyon Dam and the $10 bill on the sidewalk

tl;dr The claims of “Fill Mead First” advocates that we could save hundreds of thousands of acre feet of water a year while draining Lake Powell and consolidating all the Colorado River’s water in Lake Mead don’t hold up. The longer version…. There’s this joke. Two economists are walking down the street when one spots …

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Does Las Vegas have the most reliable water supply in the Colorado River Basin?

David Owen makes an interesting point in this New Yorker piece: Just as proximity makes people think that Las Vegas is the principal cause of the decline of Lake Mead, it also makes them think that any further decline in the lake will be a problem mainly, or even only, for Las Vegas. But that …

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Why should I conserve just so those other guys can have the water?

This story is a bit of a garble, but it illustrates one of the central challenges in making water conservation deals in the Colorado River Basin. Here’s how I explained it in my book: Within the network of state and water-agency representatives working on Colorado River Basin problems, there is a clear recognition that eventually …

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don’t let the dry March overshadow the good news for Lake Mead

Chris Harris, the new executive director of the Colorado River Board of California (just named to the job Wednesday, congratulations, Chris!) made a point in the comments of this post that’s worth highlighting. While the dry March in the Upper Colorado River Basin has eating into the runoff forecast, likely eliminating the chance of a …

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US-Mexico water sharing deal is sparing Colorado River users from shortage

In my book, I focused a great deal on the environmental and cultural benefits of the “pulse flow” through the Colorado River Delta, enabled by a 2012 agreement between the United States and Mexico. It was a shiny bauble, but there’s a lot more to the agreement than that. Most important from the perspective of …

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Henry Mancini and the fountain at the Bellagio Hotel

Some years ago, on one of my first reporting trips to Las Vegas for my book, a friend who introduced me to the fountain in front of the Bellagio Hotel suggested a bit of economics that lingered. He pointed up to the big hotel and ventured a guess at the revenue flowing through it – …

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