So how are we going to build these western water markets?

Peter Culp, Robert Glennon and Gary Libecap have published an excellent new analysis of the potential for water markets to help us dig out of the western United States’ water mess: Water trading can facilitate the reallocation of water to meet the demands of changing economies and growing populations. It can play a vital role …

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California water for kids, circa 1961

The Los Angeles area, with its large population, requires a great supply of water. To meet its needs, water is brought in by pipe lines from a long distance. Little moisture falls on the Central Valley in the dry season. During the season of rainfall, water is dammed and stored. It is released through canals …

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Phoenix, Lake Mead and “the anticommons”

Here’s a good example of why fixing the west’s water problems is going to be so difficult. Phoenix wants to do something really simple. It currently has more Colorado River water than it needs, and it would like to just leave its unused apportionment in Lake Mead. This seems like a no-brainer – Phoenix gets …

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Could Jerry Brown become “the most important water manager on Earth”?

Brett Walton evaluates Jerry Brown’s drought and water governance, comes away impressed: The last ten months are an impressive record of achievement, evidence of a governor taking seriously the duties of governing. What Brown is orchestrating in California is distinctive, perhaps unique in the United States during this frustrating age of division. In most other …

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Mead, Powell monthly data update

It is no surprise that Lake Mead ended the “water year” Sept. 30 at the lowest level it’s been since the government began filling it in the 1930s. Perhaps more importantly, combined storage in the two big reservoirs, Lake Mead and Lake Powell, ended the water year at its lowest level since 1968, when they …

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Change, stasis and (or?) resilience in New Mexico water policy

I spent a thoroughly fascinating couple of days last week at a workshop organized by the University of New Mexico’s Utton Center (legal wonks thinking about water institutions) on resilience in New Mexico water management. It was a lot of fun, made all the more so by the fact that I was invited Thursday evening …

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Stuff I wrote elsewhere: an inordinate fondness for beetles

In central New Mexico, the salt cedar beetle seems here to stay, enforcing the Law of Unintended Consequences: Introduced in the 19th century to protect railroad bridge abutments, praised for its ability to protect riverbanks from erosion, vilified for alleged water-sucking ways while simultaneously defended as wildlife habitat, the story of the Eurasian tamarisk – …

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The newest Colorado River management widget: the “System Conservation Program”

tl;dr The new Colorado River conservation program may not conserve a whole lot of water. But growing the “civic community” needed to solve the basin’s water problems may be far more important. Longer Version: The Colorado River Pilot System Water Conservation Program crept forward last week, in the process demonstrating an endearing quirk of Colorado …

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Coachella: More California drought resilience

In the latest episode of “whos’ not running out of water in California?” we join Ian James for a visit to the Coachella Valley: [V]ast amounts of water are still flowing as usual to the farms of the Coachella Valley, soaking into the soil to produce lemons and tangelos, grapes, and vegetables from carrots to …

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