We need to come to terms with the fact that we’re using less water

tl;dr Western water policy and politics has to come to grips with the fact that overall water use is declining, not rising, as populations and economies grow. The longer version…. Two years ago, when I was deeply immersed in the act of writing my book, I had an incredibly important conversation with Emily Davis, my …

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Iron, plastic, and big pipe’s battle to replace your municipal plumbing

Hiroko Tabuchi has a fascinating piece in this morning’s New York Times about a battle underway to determine whether gazillions of dollars in infrastructure spending to upgrade America’s municipal plumbing is spent on iron or plastic pipe. It features a couple of issues I love to talk about with our University of New Mexico Water …

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Will an informal norm work here, or do I need a city permit for my amplified event?

Wandering the neighborhood on this morning’s bike ride, I ran across this sign: I’m reading Robert Ellickson’s 1991 book Order without Law: How Neighbors Settle Disputes. It’s a fascinating bit of legal scholarship about how residents of Shasta County, in California, manage the problems posed by cattle wandering off the ranch and onto other folks’ …

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UC Davis irrigation experiment shows big increase in alfalfa yield per acre foot of water

Cleverly managed deficit irrigation (when you significantly reduce water applied during the hot part of the year) substantially increased yield per unit water applied in a new study by researchers at UC Davis. In controlled side-by-side field experiments, Dan Putnam and his colleagues demonstrated that if you do it right, a big reduction in water …

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On the importance of getting the boundaries right in water management and governance

I’m working this weekend on two talks, one a webinar Wednesday with Audubon and the other a lecture for UNM Water Resources grad students Thursday, that both touch on one of the fundamental challenges in getting water management right – the question of how we draw the boundaries, both geographically but also conceptually – around …

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