Using less water, Queensland edition

“The average daily water consumption across the south east in November 2014 was 190 litres per person per day. This is a stark contrast to consumption levels before the millennium drought, when the region’s residents were using an average of 330 litres per person per day.” That’s Queensland, Australia. To translate to U.S. measures, that’s …

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As Lake Mead drops, Las Vegas plays the long game

Even with the release of extra water from upstream reservoirs, Lake Mead outside Las Vegas is forecast to continue dropping in 2015 and into 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s latest monthly “24-Month Study” (pdf). At this point, as Lake Mead drifts deeper into record emptiness, it goes without saying that the big …

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Coming, not quite so soon: Beyond the Water Wars

So the folks at Island Press will be publishing my book, tentatively titled Beyond the Water Wars, about the problems facing the Colorado River Basin and how we might fix them. I couldn’t be happier. Its basic themes will be familiar to readers of this blog – the end of the age of fat reservoirs and full …

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First Colorado delta pulse flow science findings

The International Boundary and Water Commission today released its initial science report (pdf) on this spring’s Colorado River pulse flow. A few key bits: When you add water, stuff grows. Satellite imagery in June ’14 compared to a year earlier showed a 36 percent increase in the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index. The NDVI increased in all …

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“Why do I care about water policy?”

David Zetland really cares about water policy, and he wants you to think better about it:   I confess that I’m not a fan of the “educate the general public” model of water policy problem solving, which might seem odd given my profession as a journalist. That’s an “educate the general public” job, right? But …

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How to solve the Colorado River’s problems, or not

tl;dr Everyone on the Colorado River has a legitimate argument that they’ve already sacrificed, and that they have a legal entitlement to what’s left. If everyone digs in their heels on these points, the system will crash. We need to be willing to share the pain. But (scroll to the bottom) there is hope on that …

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Ostrom on institutional transparency

On twitter the other day, I was joking that I’ve adopted a new approach to my book research: when confronted with a problem, I first ask, “Did Elinor Ostrom write about this?” Ostrom won the economics Nobel in 2009 for her work on how communities solve common pool resources problems, work that’s central to the …

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Southern California water: “the best talent of the country”

From the beginning, it was clear that solving Southern California’s water problems would require “the best talent of the country”: That’s Walter Mendenhall, from a series of U.S. Geological Survey papers published in 1905 inventorying the groundwater resources of the greater Los Angeles Basin’s groundwater resources (before we thought of it as “the greater Los …

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