the abundance and diversity of water birds in Phoenix

My “natural” versus “not natural” categorization sometimes blinds me to the ways of urban nature: The development of Phoenix has, perhaps counter-intuitively, increased the total water permanence throughout the city when compared to the surrounding desert. This helps explain how Phoenix’s discrete blue spaces are able to subsidize such high levels of waterbird diversity and …

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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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New USGS data shows municipal water use, including in the West, continues to decline

The latest USGS data on water use by U.S. municipalities shows a continued decline, despite a growing population. This not just a decline in per capita use, though it is that. But per capita use continues to drop faster than population is rising in most areas. Brett Walton has a nice summary of the findings, …

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When people have less water, they use less water

Consumptive use of Colorado River water by the states of the Lower Basin (Nevada, California, and Arizona) is on track this year to be at its lowest since 1986. This graph, which I put together this weekend for a talk I’m giving at the Upper Colorado River Basin Water Forum at Colorado Mesa University in …

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“the Eden of all bass fishermen”

One of my favorite bits of business that never made it into my Colorado River book was a late afternoon encounter at Lake Mead’s Boulder Harbor boat ramp with a guy named Scotty. I was thinking about Scotty when I came across the image below, in a 1946 Bureau of Reclamation report on the development …

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More evidence that climate change is reducing the Colorado River’s flow

Scientists for many years have projected a decline in the Colorado River’s flow as a result of a warming climate. But it’s only in the last couple of years that we’ve begun to see evidence that this is already happening. The system has a lot of natural variability, so detecting the relatively smaller impact of …

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When wastewater isn’t being “wasted”, Pasadena edition

Pasadena, California, wants to use treated effluent to water golf courses. This is a water policy no-brainer, right? Well…. “As part of preparations to commence deliveries of recycled water to Pasadena, the city of Glendale petitioned the State Water Resources Control Board to seek their approval for a reduction in the amount of treated wastewater …

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California’s private utilities out-conserved its public utilities during the drought

If you had asked me to guess whether public or private utilities did better at water conservation, I would have without hesitation guessed that public utilities did better. So here’s a fascinating result from Manny Teodoro and Youlang Zhang of Texas A&M, looking at data from the recent California drought: [O]n average, communities served by private utilities …

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