Resilience and my little Rio Grande sandbar island

Since early spring, I’ve taken my early morning bike ride through downtown Albuquerque to the old Route 66 crossing of the Rio Grande. Every time, I’ve stopped to check out this little sandbar island, anchored by a tenacious community of willows. I started watching closely after I saw a pair of geese, frantic as the …

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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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New Mexico’s shrinking Gila River diversion proposal shrinks some more

The 1946 Bureau of Reclamation report projecting future development of the Colorado River – “A Natural Menace Becomes a National Resources” was its subtitle – included a picture of Hoover Dam with the caption: “World’s highest dam only partly harnesses the wild Colorado River.” The report laid out a staggeringly ambitious plan for the rest …

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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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You can’t address the Colorado River Basin’s problems without addressing the Salton Sea

RED HILL BAY – I couldn’t resist the “abandoned boat ramp” trope when I visited the Salton Sea this week. No amount of channel dredging is going to get you to the Sea at this point. And all that recently exposed shoreline between the old boat ramp where I was standing when I took the …

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