A Halloween treat: Lake Mead’s not quite as empty as we expected

I was wrong when I wrote in April that Lake Mead would continue to set “lowest ever for this point in the year” records for all of 2014. As I write this, with a few hours left in October, Mead’s surface elevation is 1,082.79 feet above seal level. That is more than five whole inches above …

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Famiglietti on draining the global groundwater bank

Jay Famiglietti in Nature Climate Change (paywalled): The irony of groundwater is that despite its critical importance to global water supplies, it attracts insufficient management attention relative to more visible surface water supplies in rivers and reservoirs. In many regions around the world, groundwater is often poorly monitored and managed. In the developing world, oversight …

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Stuff I wrote elsewhere: septic systems and groundwater contamination

I am endlessly fascinated (and frustrated) by the mess that is societal risk perception. Here (behind a Google survey wall), a look at efforts to regulate septic systems in Bernalillo County, primarily on the kind-of-rural fringes of the Albuquerque metro area: As groundwater contamination problems go, the stuff leaking from septic systems isn’t terribly sexy. …

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Dry start to southwestern U.S. 2014-15 water year

Most of the way through October, it’s been a dry start to the 2014-15 “water year”, the season in which we build the snowpack to feed the rivers of the southwestern United States. As Jonathan Overpeck says: + @jfleck if there ever was a water year/ winter when we needed snow in our SW headwaters, …

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Wells on the fringes of Tucson running dry

Contra Porterville in California, where poor farmworkers with few options are running out of water, on the fringes of Tucson it’s those who chose to sprawl onto the edge of a relatively affluent community, beyond municipal utilities and dependent on a marginal aquifer, who are now seeing their wells running dry. Tony Davis: In the …

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A Boulder Dam anniversary

Yesterday was the 78th anniversary of the first electric generator go into full operation at Boulder Dam. EDN has the story: Electricity from the dam’s powerhouse was originally sold pursuant to a 50-year contract, authorized by Congress in 1934, which ran from 1937 to 1987. In 1984, Congress passed a new statute which set power …

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Priority administration and Arizona’s Colorado River allotment

It’s generally more complicated than I think: A member of the Inkstain brain trust points out two catches in my “why can’t Phoenix just leave its unused apportionment in Lake Mead” post last week. The first has to do with Arizona’s application of the doctrine of prior appropriation with respect to its allocation of Colorado …

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Conflict sells

Here is Maria Gibson, the groundwater geek: Although research shows, on an international level, collaboration rather than conflict is the norm, most would agree “water collaboration” is far less exciting than “water wars”…. Via the always helpful Michael Campana, and more Gibson here.