Beyond the Cadillac Desert

Chuck Cullom, the Central Arizona Project’s Colorado River Programs Manager, asked a great question during my lunch talk last week at the Universities Council on Water Resources annual meeting. It was a panel with me and Bill and Rosemarie Alley, who’ve written a new book on groundwater that you should click on this link and …

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loss aversion and the latest Lake Mead forecast

The Bureau of Reclamation’s June Colorado River forecast projects Lake Mead ending 2018 at elevation 1,076.5 feet above sea level, three feet higher than the Bureau’s January projection of 1,073.5. If the forecast holds, that’s enough of an increase in Mead storage, thanks to a larger-than average snowpack in the Rockies, to avoid a shortage …

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Phoenix to pay Gila River Indian Communities to leave Colorado River water in Lake Mead

The Phoenix City Council today agreed to pay the Gila River Indian Communities $2 million as part of a deal to leave 40,000 acre feet of the Indian Communities’ Colorado River water in Lake Mead this year. The state of Arizona, the federal government, and the Walton Family Foundation also are contributing. From the city …

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As climate warms, a decline in snowmelt runoff

Based on hydrological model simulations and a new snowmelt tracking algorithm, we show that 53% of the total runoff in the western United States originates as snowmelt, despite only 37% of the precipitation falling as snow. In mountainous areas, snowmelt is responsible for 70% of the total runoff. By 2100, the contribution of snowmelt to …

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Desalination and water’s scale issue

A sometimes poorly understood piece of the water story is the question of scale – the truly enormous quantities of water required to do human stuff like be a city or grow our food. This is the shortcoming of well-meaning suggestions like building a pipeline to the Missouri River or a string of desalination plants …

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Imperial Irrigation District is saving a lot of water

There’s something that really jumps out in the Bureau of Reclamation’s final accounting of 2016 Lower Colorado River Basin water use. In May, the Bureau releases the official accounting, which is a meticulous, tedious, closely watched and monitored and argued over report on who used how much water on the Lower Colorado. Much to digest in the …

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Why you should be reading Brett Walton’s “Federal Water Tap”

Did you know that there are 16 separate federal “activities and programs” with some sort of jurisdiction over and responsibility for rural water? 18 for drought mitigation and response? I did not. I mean, I had a general idea, but not in the sort of excruciating and incredibly useful detail as you can find in …

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