Annals of ag-urban transfers: Imperial Valley, December 2002

The Imperial Irrigation District has more Colorado River water than anyone else. That has put them at the center of every major Colorado River Basin conversation about the transfer of agricultural water to urban users, including a particularly dramatic bit of brinksmanship going on in the fall of 2002. The other states of the basin …

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Is the basin the wrong scale to look at Colorado River (or Rio Grande) system groundwater losses?

I think the answer to my rhetorical question in this post’s headline is obviously “no”. I think this is enormously useful data. But I’m still puzzling over who beyond clickbaiting bloggers like myself might use it, and how. In his coverage of the GRACE Colorado Basin groundwater depeletion, Brett Walton at Circle of Blue included …

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Ag-urban transfers: “a significant fission of costs and benefits”

More from in Brian Devine’s excellent series on the tradeoffs, some quite hidden, in the agricultural-to-urban water transfers that seem the inevitable path forward in the western United States: To many rural communities, water is more than just money. Irrigation is the lifeblood of rural communities’ economies, to be sure, but it is also a …

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Stuff I helped write elsewhere: Endangered Species Act litigation on the Rio Grande

From this morning’s Albuquerque Journal (behind a GoogleSurveyWall for non-subscribers, sorry): Citing “two decades of broken promises by federal and state water managers,” a Santa Fe-based environmental group filed a federal lawsuit against two government agencies Thursday alleging they failed “to secure dynamic and perennial flows for the Rio Grande” needed to protect the silvery …

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Policy implications of Castle and colleagues on Colorado River Basin groundwater depletions

Ever since we saw early glimpses last spring of data from Stephanie Castle, Jay Famiglietti and colleagues about groundwater depletion in the Colorado River Basin, I’ve been puzzling over the policy implications. Their data, published today in GRL, is worth an “OMG IT’S WORSE THAN WE THOUGHT!” While we’ve been watching Lake Mead’s bathtub ring grow …

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New data shows Colorado Basin groundwater loss greater than reservoir shrinkage

While we’ve been watching Lake Mead and Lake Powell drop during the last decade, the hidden reservoirs of groundwater beneath the Colorado River Basin have been dropping even faster, according to new research by Stephanie Castle and her colleagues at U.C. Irvine. Using gravity data from NASA’s GRACE satellite (the new tool all the cool …

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Pressure increasing to do something about a dropping Lake Mead

With a meeting coming up Friday of representatives of the seven Colorado River basin states, pressure is increasing to do something about the dropping reservoir levels in the basin, Tony Davis reports: “How urgent it is depends on what you think the risk is,” said attorney Wade Noble, who has represented Yuma-area irrigation districts for 30 …

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How well is California weathering the drought?

Peter Gleick runs down some of the impacts of California’s remarkable drought: [W]ater still comes out of my tap, in unrestricted amounts and superb quality, at a reasonable price. And this is true of every resident in the state: drinking water supplies have not been affected, especially for the vast majority of the population that …

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Brian Devine on ag-urban transfers

Ag-to-urban water transfers are one of the ways it’s easy to make the Colorado River Basin’s water math balance. Seventy percent of the water is currently consumed by agriculture. Just a fraction of that, transferred to use in cities (AMI, or “agriculture to municipal and industrial”), should make solving the problem relatively straightforward, right? Brian …

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Eating the Colorado River shortage elephant, one bite at a time

This line from a paper a few years back by Edella Schlager and Tanya Heikkila may seem obvious, but in the context of current discussions over the future of Colorado River management, it bears repeating: A water allocation rule that allocates more water than is available in a river is not well matched to its …

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