The problem of expectations

Felicia Marcus on the West’s water problems: The problem with vast water negotiations like the Colorado River Compact, said Marcus, the Stanford water policy expert, is that every entity, from governments down to people watering their lawns, come to expect the current amount of available water — even if that availability is an outlier or …

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How Albuquerque’s Rio Grande looks now, and what to expect this spring and summer

We stopped on Saturday’s bike ride for one of my favorite views of the Rio Grande, looking north from the Gail Ryba Bridge (the bike bridge that parallels Interstate 40). The Rio Grande looks great right now, but looks can be deceiving. This time of year there’s always “base flow” – the basic winter flow …

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On the value of Colorado River Beat reporting

On a Zoom call with a group of Colorado River brain trusters this morning, there was a realization that we’d all been talking in recent weeks to the same reporters. Sometimes it’s someone new to the issues, looking for help with a single story. With dropping reservoirs, several pressing near-term political and policy questions, and …

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The “novel ecosystem” of Albuquerque’s valley ditches

This morning’s Downtown Albuquerque News (some of my favorite Albuquerque journalisms, worth ever $ spent to subscribe) has an item on Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District board member Barbara Baca’s thoughts on ditchbank vegetation: Through its vast network of irrigation ditches, the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District is primarily in the water delivery business, but …

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A bad year on the Rio Grande: climate adaptation in real time

With another abysmal runoff forecast on the Rio Grande, New Mexico is entering a fascinating experiment, playing out in real time, in climate change adaptation. The latest model runoff forecast, circulated this morning by the folks at NRCS, is for flow of just 59 percent of average where the Rio Grande enters central New Mexico …

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Aldo Leopold’s Albuquerque

In the early 20th century, before Aldo Leopold became Aldo Leopold, the young forester lived on what was then the edge of Albuquerque’s expanding urban fringe. 135 14th St. SW SE sits today as a fine example of early 20th century “bungalows” that you might find in many western American cities. But when Leopold lived …

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Striking new study suggests how deeply we’ll need to reduce our use of Colorado River water

Stabilizing Colorado River reservoir levels under even moderate drought/climate change scenarios will require deeper water use reductions than basin managers have to date been willing to contemplate (at least publicly), according to a new analysis by researchers at the the Futures of the Colorado River project, based at Utah State. Led by highly respected veteran …

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In which I write about manure

The latest product of my eclectic new academic career – a paper about manure. Manure disposal is a growing problem as agricultural specialization leads to ever-larger concentrations of farm animals. Animals and crops were once grown on the same farm, creating an easy path for manure disposal on cropland in a cycle from animals to …

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The circuitous path to Max Gutierrez’s grave

It at some point may become necessary, and valuable, to backtrack and trace the path that led us to Max Gutierrez’s grave last Sunday. It was my friend Scot who found Max’s grave, which is appropriate because it was Scot who found Max. Scot had already found what he thought might be Max’s house, on …

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