California ag showing remarkable resilience

Amid the rhetoric of doom, California agriculture has so far been growing its way through drought: Even as many farmers cut back their planting, California’s farm economy overall has been surprisingly resilient. Farm employment increased by more than 1 percent last year. Gross farm revenue from crop production actually increased by two-tenths of 1 percent …

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In 1973, Mexico worried U.S. would slip radioactive waste into Colorado River drain water?

Minute 242, an addenda to the U.S.-Mexico Colorado River Treaty, (pdf) contemplated construction of a drain to safely carry high salinity U.S. drainage past municipal and agricultural intakes and dump it into a slough near the Sea of Cortez. It was a time of tension between the two countries over the salinity issue. (Evan Ward’s …

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Middle Rio Grande update

Water managers increased the release this afternoon (Thurs. May 21) from Cochiti Dam into New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande Valley to 3,000 cubic feet per second, which will increase flows yet more tomorrow through Albuquerque. As I explained yesterday,  May storms and some clever water management twiddling with stored supplies is providing the opportunity for …

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For the first time since 2011, less than half of New Mexico in drought

For the first time since January 2011, less than half of New Mexico is classified in “drought” this morning in the weekly federal “Drought Monitor” (“drought” is the oranges and browns): Driving back across the state from a meeting in Arizona last week, things looked greener than I’ve seen in a long time, though I …

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New Mexico’s Rio Grande, on the rise (finally)

Water from our recent storms, combined with the some clever twiddling by federal and local water managers, is pushing the Rio Grande through Albuquerque in the next few days to the highest spring runoff levels we’ve seen since 2010. Water managers are taking advantage of the May storms to add some water and create a …

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“Enough water will never be enough”

California’s water problems will never be solved Faith Kerns and Doug Parker argue, because cities and farms will always expand to the edge of available supply, overshoot, and then face trouble during the dry times: There are other arenas where this phenomenon is well understood. For example, when it comes to freeways, congestion leads to demand …

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Water projects and federal incentives

The culture of federal water projects has trained state interests, like a puppy to a dog biscuit, to believe that the federal government has limitless federal largesse and that no contract term will ever be enforced against state water project interest. Robert Glennon, writing two decades ago, in Coattails of the Past: Using and Financing the …

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Creeping toward shortage: Lake Mead now headed for bigger drop next year than we thought

Folks worried that Lake Mead might drop below elevation 1,075 and trigger a first-ever Lower Colorado River Basin shortage now have more to worry about. The latest monthly model runs from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (pdf) have increased the odds, and suggest that Mead (currently at 1,077.03) could drop all the way to 1,054 by …

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The federal role in western drought

The federal government, through its water agencies (and the funding providing via taxpayers in other places) used to be a major player in the development of the West. This Michael Doyle story, in describing a Congress up to its axles in California drought and unable to move an inch, suggests that is no longer the …

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