El Niño and New Mexico’s Rio Grande

Does the looming El Niño mean we can expect a big year on the Rio Grande? Not necessarily. The scatter in the data is huge, but hidden in the data is a bit of a nudge in the direction of wet: That’s native flow at Otowi, the key Rio Grande measurement point north of Albuquerque. There’s …

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In California, clarifying what we mean by “drought”

Preparing for a lecture for next week for the University of New Mexico Water Resources Program class I’m co-teaching, I’m having the students read this piece by my drought guru Kelly Redmond: Most concepts of drought involve a water balance. This implies that both supply and demand must be considered, as well as the question …

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Decoupling water use from growth: the New Mexico example

Pulling together some New Mexico water use numbers today for one of my University of New Mexico colleagues, I was reminded of a cool paper from a few years back by Peter H. Gleick and Meena Palaniappan of the Pacific Institute that contained this striking graph: It’s two times series – U.S. gross domestic product and …

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Gila River water governance gizmo built. Sort of.

New Mexico’s Interstate Stream Commission yesterday formally approved the creation of a “New Mexico Central Arizona Project Entity,” a governance gizmo needed to move forward with a proposal to divert Colorado River tributary water from the Gila River in New Mexico: Interstate Stream Commission members have approved a resolution designating a 14-member unit to design …

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Groundwater in Albuquerque: rising

A couple of blocks from my Albuquerque home is Del Sol Park, but everyone in the neighborhood calls it “Twin Parks”, because of the short street that divides it in two. On one side of that street, a nondescript concrete pad marks the spot where the U.S. Geological Survey measures the depth to groundwater beneath …

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How I ended the New Mexico drought

I would like to point out that the first six months of 2015, which roughly coincides with the time since I quite writing about drought for the Albuquerque Journal, have seen the wettest statewide average precipitation since the epic year of 1941: You’re welcome, and you have my deepest apologies for not doing this sooner.

Water in the desert: Crownpoint, New Mexico

Crownpoint, New Mexico, is one of those places that makes clear the extent to which water (or its lack) constrains human geography. Lissa and I drove out Friday evening to the monthly Crownpoint Navajo Rug Auction. Crownpoint’s the biggest city on the eastern edge of the Navajo Nation, but at a population of 2,500, it’s …

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Can we retire “Water flows uphill toward money”?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the whole “water flows uphill toward money” thing is not only wrong, but that its wrongness is problematic. It’s one of those intellectual shortcuts that can be dashed off uncritically, and audiences nod knowingly because of course water flows uphill toward money we all know that, and no further analysis is …

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An Albuquerque rainstorm for the record books

That thunderstorm that woke most of us up early this morning (lightning flashes through our skylight at 1:30 a.m.) was one for the record books. At the National Weather Service’s airport gauge (the “official” Albuquerque gauge), 2.24 inches (5.7 cm). According to Brian Guyer at the Weather Service, that’s the single highest 24-hour total in history: