How well is California weathering the drought?

Peter Gleick runs down some of the impacts of California’s remarkable drought: [W]ater still comes out of my tap, in unrestricted amounts and superb quality, at a reasonable price. And this is true of every resident in the state: drinking water supplies have not been affected, especially for the vast majority of the population that …

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Brian Devine on ag-urban transfers

Ag-to-urban water transfers are one of the ways it’s easy to make the Colorado River Basin’s water math balance. Seventy percent of the water is currently consumed by agriculture. Just a fraction of that, transferred to use in cities (AMI, or “agriculture to municipal and industrial”), should make solving the problem relatively straightforward, right? Brian …

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Eating the Colorado River shortage elephant, one bite at a time

This line from a paper a few years back by Edella Schlager and Tanya Heikkila may seem obvious, but in the context of current discussions over the future of Colorado River management, it bears repeating: A water allocation rule that allocates more water than is available in a river is not well matched to its …

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Stuff I wrote elsewhere: moving groundwater in New Mexico

The Augustin Plains Ranch project, New Mexico’s version of a trend toward meeting urban needs in the west by pumping rural groundwater in to cities, is taking another whack at winning state approval after losing resoundingly two years ago: A for-profit group hoping to pump New Mexico groundwater to the Rio Grande Valley and sell …

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Prior appropriation: alive and well at the Colorado River basin scale?

tl;dr The 1922 Colorado River Compact was supposed to sidestep the “doctrine of prior appropriation”, assuring slow-developing Upper Colorado River Basin states that their fast-growing downstream neighbors wouldn’t lock up all the water. But while that may be true on paper, 21st century reality suggest “prior appropriation” is back. longer: Bret Walton’s Circle of Blue …

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So did Lake Mead break the record yet or not?

At this point it’s just a parlor game, but has Lake Mead broken through the old “lowest since they filled it” record yet or not? Regardless of the fractions of an inch involved, it’s a big deal. (Go to Circle of Blue for an explanation.) But the conversation this week has been a bit confused …

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Isenberg: Drought amplifies, not causes, water problems

Smart words from Phil Isenberg, California’s water sage: [O]ur historic population and economic growth—and the social and individual choices we have made—explain the water and environmental problems we face today. Unless we acknowledge that water supplies are limited, and act to temper our water use, we will limp toward the next drought, and act surprised when …

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AMACRQ: Can you move Colorado River water from one state to another?

For the latest “Ask me a Colorado River question,” a friend of Inkstain wonders: Q: Can you move water from one Colorado River Basin state to another? A: No. OK, this is the Law of the River, so of course it’s more complicated than that, with numerous edge case exceptions, but basically, no, you can’t …

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Lake Mead at 1,081.89 feet above sea level and dropping: Is this unprecedented?

update: With the latest hourly reading, the elevation of Lake Mead has dropped to 1,081.84 feet above sea level, the lowest it has been since the reservoir was being filled in the 1930s: Previously: Last night at midnight, the surface elevation of Lake Mead dropped to 1,081.89 feet above sea level, half an inch above …

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