During World War II, Philadelphia a major industrial center for war production, according to historian Herbert Ershkowitz. The work was accompanied by a public relations blitz to encourage conservation in support of the war effort.
The last time New Mexico was (by at least one measure) this dry, Billy the Kid was shooting up the state and pueblo crops in the Rio Grande Valley were wilting.
The “one measure” in this case is consecutive dry years on the Rio Grande:
From 1873 to 1883, the Rio Grande experienced four straight dry years, had a break with an average year, then another six dry years in a row, according to University of Arizona professor Connie Woodhouse. Since that time, we haven’t had six dry years in a row until now.
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One of my favorite Albuquerque views is from the bike trail by what we call the “Big I”, the interchange of two interstates in the middle of town. The trail runs along the northwest bank of a flood control channel, and the geography is such that you’re at the highest point around, including (mostly) the freeways. The result is a nearly 360-degree horizon – the Manzano and Sandia mountains to the east, the Jemez to the north and Albuquerque’s volcanoes to the west.
But when I stopped today to try to photograph it for this blog post instead of just enjoying it as I rolled by, I noticed something that I’d never seen before in the hundreds of times I’ve done that ride. There is a tremendous amount of city interrupting the view of the landscape. For years, my eye and brain have been clearing all that clutter away. The view of the volcanoes was the most striking example:
Those little bumps on the horizon, toward the right side of this picture. Those are the volcanoes. There’s a lot more city in the way than I realized.
“This is a very, very important issue and we are trying to offer some leadership in this regard and brought in people to give direction,” Freeze said of the summit. “We want what is best for our communities and families. We all realize that, like it or not, our region and state is going to grow. There is nothing we can do to stop that.”
Given the limited supplies of water, what ever are Utahns to do?
The experts said Utah County would have to learn to conserve water and even suggested residents might have to give up eating meat.
tl;dr While Northern California flounders, Southern California’s drought planning kicks in as Met taps into its Lake Mead water savings bank
Brett Walton, writing about President Obama’s visit to California’s drought-stricken Central Valley, captured that state’s water policy dilemma:
“It can’t just be a matter of there’s going to be less and less water so I’m going to grab more and more of a shrinking share of water,” Obama continued. “Instead what we have to do is all come together and figure out how we all are going to make sure that agricultural needs, urban needs, industrial needs, environmental and conservation concerns are all addressed.”
That is a tall order, requiring a radical reinvention both of California’s water supply hardware and its operation – changes that politicians, environmentalists, and farmers have fought over for decades. Indeed, the drought has catalyzed a consensus that something should be done, but there is little agreement about the details.
Yes, but… To the south, the fruits of some years of wrestling over these issues has left a more orderly process for dealing with the current mess.
The Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead, approved in 2007, allowed Lower Colorado River Basin users to take a variety of steps to conserve or otherwise increase water supply, banking the resulting savings in Lake Mead for use when needed:
The primary purposes of ICS are to: (a) encourage the efficient use and management of Colorado River water; and to increase the water supply in Colorado River System reservoirs, through the creation, delivery and use of ICS; (b) help minimize or avoid shortages to water users in the Lower Basin; (c) benefit storage of water in both Lake Powell and Lake Mead; (d) increase the surface elevations of both Lake Powell and Lake Mead to higher levels than would have otherwise occurred; and (f) assure any Contractor that invests in conservation or augmentation to create ICS that no other Contractor will claim the ICS created by the Contractor pursuant to an approved plan by the Secretary.
We don’t have the final 2013 accounting yet, but at the end of 2012 the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California had banked 579,786 acre feet of water in Lake Mead. Overall, the Lower Basin water contractors as a whole had banked 1.2 million acre feet in Mead (p. 44 here, pdf).
This year, with California State Water Project deliveries reduced to a trickle (is “zero” a “trickle”?), MWD has said it plans on tapping into some of its ICS water in Lake Mead, to the tune of about 200,000 acre feet (though a final decision has not been made). The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation granted MWD approval to store more ICS water in Mead this year, but according to a staff report to MWD’s board last week (pdf) that appears unlikely:
Due to dry conditions in California, however, it is unlikely Metropolitan will store water in Lake Mead this year, and has initially planned to withdraw water from its storage account in Lake Mead.
I’ve argued that a century of fighting over the Colorado River has created a robust framework for water management decisions on the Lower Colorado that makes it much less difficult to handle trouble in times like this.
From Brett Walton, a visit to California’s Central Valley to witness Stein’s Law in action:
David Zoldoske, who has worked at Fresno State for 31 years, sees this as the future of agriculture in the Central Valley. Fewer acres will be irrigated, less groundwater will be pumped.
“Global warming is nonsense,” Mr. Nunes said. He criticized the federal government for shutting off portions of California’s system of water irrigation and storage, and diverting water into a program for freshwater salmon. “There was plenty of water. This has nothing to do with drought. They can blame global warming all they want, but this is about mathematics and engineering.”
How is it even possible to start a water policy conversation when a politician so willfully ignores reality?