Initial forecast: Lakes Mead and Powell headed for record low in 2018

With an underwhelming snowpack right now, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s initial 2018 forecast (pdf here) projects combined storage in Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the two primary reservoirs on the Colorado River, will drop to 21.7 million acre feet by the end of 2018. That would be the lowest Mead/Powell combined year end storage …

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What happened in the Colorado River Basin in the winter of 1976-77?

At yesterday’s monthly Colorado Basin River Forecast Center briefing, Greg Smith noted, by way of analogy, the winter of 1976-77. Smith explained that he wasn’t forecasting – the fact that the evolution of this year’s forecast is similar to 1976-77 doesn’t mean that the rest of this year will be like that year, or that …

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Overcoming “use it or lose it” on the Colorado – an example

Yesterday I pointed out how much water is being stashed in Lake Mead as an example of how folks on the Colorado River are overcoming the old “use it or lose it” problem in western water. Here’s another example, this time with water taken off of the river and stored underground,┬áin this case excess water …

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Overcoming “use it or lose it” on the Colorado River

The “use it or lose it” problem in western water happens when water users who conserve are penalized by having the saved water simply go to another user. A series of policy innovations over the last decade to overcome this problem are showing up right now in a big way in Lake Mead. In all, …

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Not to alarm you further, but the Jan. 1 runoff forecast for New Mexico is really really bad

As I mentioned, this is the driest start to a water year in a century in Albuquerque. The preliminary Jan. 1 runoff forecast from the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service bears this out. The forecast, based on snow measurements, is stark. NRCS has 40 years of snow records, and for many sites, this is the …

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Managing the Colorado River to use less, rather than take more

In the summer of 1931, as the Bureau of Reclamation was launching work on Hoover Dam, flows on the Colorado River dropped to what, at the time, were low flows unprecedented in the few decades’ records on the river. In retrospect it should have been a clue that there was not going to reliably be …

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New Mexico 2017 Water Year in Review

We’re up to 82 consecutive days without measurable precipitation at the Albuquerque airport, the 8th longest dry streak in more than a century of record keeping. And there’s nothing in the forecast out seven days, which is as far as it’s reliable to take it (butterfly effect and all). But OK, since you asked, the …

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