Floods on the Colorado: If It Has Happened in the Past, It Can Happen

By Eric Kuhn Last week I had the pleasure of exploring the banks the Colorado River near Moab, Utah with two of our most accomplished river scientists, Jack Schmidt (Utah State) and Vic Baker (U of Arizona), and hear a presentation by Dr. Baker on the science of studying past floods on the Colorado River …

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The Salton Sea: “treat it as a real place that impacts real people’s lives”

Imperial Valley resident (and Imperial Irrigation District board member) Jim Hanks: The Salton Sea is a real place to me and I have always seen it as a lake, because that’s what it is. I also see it as hydrologically, geographically and morally connected to the Colorado River, and I appreciate the effort to place …

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Beyond the “Drought Contingency Plan” on the Colorado River

Brad Udall, Doug Kenney, and I wrote a thing about the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan and what comes next: The plan is historic: It acknowledges that southwestern states need to make deep water use reductions – including a large share from agriculture, which uses over 70% of the supply – to prevent Colorado River …

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Upper Colorado River Basin water use: well below our compact allocation, not going up

tl;dr Folks in the Upper Colorado River Basin are only using ~60 percent of their Colorado River Compact allocation Use has been basically flat since 1990. It is not going up. A couple of weeks ago I got an email, with an attached spreadsheet, from my co-author Eric Kuhn.  It was his distillation of data …

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How Parker Dam might have been the Colorado River’s first

If you want to dam rivers, as we were inclined across much of the 20th century, the location of the current Parker Dam on the Lower Colorado River makes sense – a narrow gap just downstream from the confluence of the Colorado and Bill Williams rivers on the Arizona-California border. I paid a visit last …

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The hydrograph of the All-American Canal

With little water storage to speak of in the Imperial Valley, the flow of the All-American Canal west from Imperial Dam integrates, in close to real time, the collective decisions of a thousand farmers growing crops on half a million acres. A “hydrograph” is a commonly used tool for looking at the flow of water …

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New USBR modeling shows substantial reduction in Mead, Powell risk over the next five years

The unusually wet winter (with an assist from new Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan water reduction rules) has substantially reduced the near-term scare-the-crap-out-of-me risks on the Colorado River for the next few years, according to new Bureau of Reclamation modeling. Modeling done in January showed significant risk – a nearly one in three chance – …

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Delph Carpenter’s Preferred Compact

By Eric Kuhn Colorado attorney Delph Carpenter (1877-1951) is given credit as the driving force behind the 1922 Colorado River Compact, a much-deserved accolade. Had the compact negotiators actually listened to him, however, both basins would be better off today. Before the compact negotiators settled on the deal we are now trying to live with, …

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