On the Great Lakes, a trans-basin diversion discussion

For those of us in the western United States accustomed to the large scale movement of water from one river basin to another via tunnels, pumps, and the like, the current discussion about water supplies for Waukesha, Wisconsin, is a fascinating case study. As I write this, I’m drinking from a glass of Albuquerque tap …

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A drying trend forecast for the Southwest

Today’s long lead outlook from the Climate Prediction Center is enough to make a southwestern water manager long a second consecutive busted forecast*. With La Niña in the offing, the maps show creeping brown across the Four Corners states by August and not letting up until late spring of 2017: * Last winter’s forecast, for a …

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In California environmental management, signs of hope

California sprang to action in its fourth year of deep drought because water management professionals and state leaders recognized that California’s water-scarce condition could be the new norm. They accepted the scientific consensus that it could get considerably worse. The way out of the trouble was to convince state residents of the need for collective …

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Institutional Constraints to Water Management in New Mexico

Conference May 20 organized by my University of New Mexico water colleagues, especially Kerry Howe at UNM’s Center for Water and the Environment and Adrian Oglesby at the Utton Center: The drought has eased somewhat in New Mexico but might be returning, and uncertainties regarding our future remain.  This 1-day conference will focus on federal …

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Optimism, problems journalism, and solutions journalism. And groundwater.

It is not hard to find and highlight problems. Solutions are more difficult stories to tell, because they often manifest themselves as things that just work, unnoticed by the very fact of their practical efficiency – “Problems scream, solutions whisper,” as a new friend working on “solutions journalism” recently told me. Thus it is, for …

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Selling the Colorado River deal back home: Imperial, the Salton Sea and California’s hard road

For those following efforts to cobble together an expanded Colorado River water conservation deal (that’s all of you, right?) there are a couple of important issues to unpack in Ian James’ excellent interview published yesterday with Kevin Kelley, general manager of the Imperial Irrigation District. Imperial, the largest single water using agency on the Colorado, …

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Melons, boats, fish: the new Tusher Dam on the Green

Brian Maffly writes this week about the new Tusher Dam on the Green River, a little diversion structure that diverts water to a bit more than 5,000 acres that apparently grows delicious melons. The old dam was in trouble, and the new one has been crafted to expand the range of natural and societal values …

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The inevitable decline of irrigated acreage in California’s central valley

It’s a relatively straightforward point: when there is less water to irrigate farmland, there will be less irrigated farmland. For example, OtPR last year: As groundwater sustainability agencies have to bring irrigated acreage in line with the sustainable yield of the groundwater basin, they will be retiring irrigated lands (Dr. Burt: 1-1.5 million acres; Dr. Lund: …

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