A decent (not great, but decent) water year on the Colorado was not enough to stave off mandatory cuts

Walking across the University of New Mexico campus yesterday afternoon on my way to orientation for our incoming UNM Water Resources Program students, at precisely 3:10 pm MDT, a friend sent me a historic text message: “1089.4”. Translated from the native language of the Colorado River Water Nerd, “1089.4” means “The surface of Lake Mead …

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The repartimiento – a deep history of sharing water

Preparing for the fall class I co-teach, I was sitting out by the shady fountain in the old Zimmerman Library courtyard this morning, when I had occasion to spill carne adovada from my breakfast burrito on my copy of Jose Rivera’s book chapter on “The historical role of acequias and agriculture“. (Technically it’s my co-instructor …

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Floods on the Colorado: If It Has Happened in the Past, It Can Happen

By Eric Kuhn Last week I had the pleasure of exploring the banks the Colorado River near Moab, Utah with two of our most accomplished river scientists, Jack Schmidt (Utah State) and Vic Baker (U of Arizona), and hear a presentation by Dr. Baker on the science of studying past floods on the Colorado River …

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The Salton Sea: “treat it as a real place that impacts real people’s lives”

Imperial Valley resident (and Imperial Irrigation District board member) Jim Hanks: The Salton Sea is a real place to me and I have always seen it as a lake, because that’s what it is. I also see it as hydrologically, geographically and morally connected to the Colorado River, and I appreciate the effort to place …

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Resilience and my little Rio Grande sandbar island

Since early spring, I’ve taken my early morning bike ride through downtown Albuquerque to the old Route 66 crossing of the Rio Grande. Every time, I’ve stopped to check out this little sandbar island, anchored by a tenacious community of willows. I started watching closely after I saw a pair of geese, frantic as the …

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Beyond the “Drought Contingency Plan” on the Colorado River

Brad Udall, Doug Kenney, and I wrote a thing about the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan and what comes next: The plan is historic: It acknowledges that southwestern states need to make deep water use reductions – including a large share from agriculture, which uses over 70% of the supply – to prevent Colorado River …

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Upper Colorado River Basin water use: well below our compact allocation, not going up

tl;dr Folks in the Upper Colorado River Basin are only using ~60 percent of their Colorado River Compact allocation Use has been basically flat since 1990. It is not going up. A couple of weeks ago I got an email, with an attached spreadsheet, from my co-author Eric Kuhn.  It was his distillation of data …

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New Mexico’s shrinking Gila River diversion proposal shrinks some more

The 1946 Bureau of Reclamation report projecting future development of the Colorado River – “A Natural Menace Becomes a National Resources” was its subtitle – included a picture of Hoover Dam with the caption: “World’s highest dam only partly harnesses the wild Colorado River.” The report laid out a staggeringly ambitious plan for the rest …

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How Parker Dam might have been the Colorado River’s first

If you want to dam rivers, as we were inclined across much of the 20th century, the location of the current Parker Dam on the Lower Colorado River makes sense – a narrow gap just downstream from the confluence of the Colorado and Bill Williams rivers on the Arizona-California border. I paid a visit last …

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