Colorado River Lower Basin water users leaving nearly 500,000 acre feet in Lake Mead this year

I’m happy (nay enthusiastic!) to point out the way Lake Mead keeps dropping, but it’s worth nothing this as well: Colorado River water use in Arizona, Nevada, and California this year is currently forecast at 7.006 million acre feet (source: pdf), well below the three states’ nominal legal entitlement of 7.5 million acre feet. The …

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Shoshone hydro plant, the most fascinating water right in the West

On what is apparently Colorado River Day (who decides such things?) I made a little pilgrimage this afternoon to see the Shoshone hydro plant, just up river from the little town of Glenwood Springs on Colorado’s west slope. Shoshone has a unique place in the water management of the Colorado River Basin because of western …

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All hydrology is local, Glenwood Springs edition

Eric Kuhn, General Manager of the Colorado River District, took me for a walk along his river yesterday evening, pointing out the muddy flow of the Colorado, coming in from the left, at its confluence with the Roaring Fork River – the clear water coming in under the railroad bridge. This is on the state …

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“I flood.” UNM’s Basia Irland and the voice of a river

Remarkable piece by UNM water professor emeritus Basia Irland: I flood. That is what I — and all my cousins — do from time to time. It is part of our rhythm. In their hubris, humans build cities and towns right on our banks, then get upset with us when our waters rise and destroy …

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Urban water, urban birds

When I’m in Phoenix, I always try to squeeze out some time to go birding at the Gilbert Water Ranch, a constructed wetland where practical water management has been turned into a lovely urban amenity. A fascinating new project by Arizona State University graduate student Riley Burnette (pdf) attempts to quantify the role that the …

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The shrinking of the American lawn

According to this piece by Andrew McGill of CityLab/The Atlantic, the average American yard has shrunk by 26 percent since the 1970s, as homes get larger while lots get smaller: The shrinking lawn is actually an economic compromise. Americans want bigger houses, but since every additional square foot balloons the cost, homebuilders are keeping prices …

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Elwha Dam Removal – a reminder that changing water management systems is hard

The removal of two dams on the Elwha River, on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, has been rightly celebrated as a major achievement – returning a river and its fish to their old channel. But there is much to learn, also, about how difficult it is to change the course of a water system when society has …

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Why water management in the Upper Colorado River Basin is so different from the Lower

CORTEZ, CO – The Spring Creek Extension Ditch Company got the OK this week from Colorado’s Southwest Basin Roundtable for a $29,000 grant to replace a 75-year-old siphon on the Spring Creek Ditch, where it crosses the Pine Valley Canal. The ditch company has been delivering water to farmers southeast of Durango since 1901. There …

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