Here’s a question for the western water wonks in the audience.
During a time of unprecedented population growth in the west, we just went through the driest 10-year stretch on the Colorado since record-keeping began. And no one had their water turned off. What does this say about the systems we have in place to manage the river?
It says that non-river sources (g/w) and uses (ag) are taking the hit.
The CR is so tightly managed that the slack was elsewhere…
(and I’d hate to see the CR Delta!)
Some of that slack has been taken up by better efficiency in the muni sector – most Western cities have seen per capita usage drop over the past 10 years (a little over 10% here in Tucson). But I agree that overall the ag sector must be using less from the River and/or more from other sources, i.e. groundwater.
I’m not a water wonk but I will throw this out:
Was there any less water appropriated from the River in the last few years than the normal distributions? I think that ten years ago the distribution from the Colorado was under a surplus criteria. Today, no surplus exists. No shortage distribution in effect either.
True, the lake levels are down and there has been a sustained drought for the last ten years. I think the question was – did anyone’s water get shut off?
No. Something about the river’s management should be understood. The Feds monitor and oversee the distribution between the states. The stake holders tend to manage the distributions that they are entitled to in those states. That is, they have the freedom to make agreements between themselves on who uses ‘this’ amount of water today and who uses ‘that’ amount of water next year. Probably, not an ideal system to utilize – but the options are limited.
I recall that Zetland had a an interview with an MWD manager a few months back that mentioned this, I believe. Another example of this type of stake holder cooperation is SNWA’s involvement in Drop2. As for the AG sector taking the ‘hit’ water wise, is it due to less water being drawn from the river? Or is it due to no surplus water being released? Or is it due to the available water being re-directed to another use agreed upon by the stake holders?
Clearly, CA is taking less (for farmers) due to QSA requirements. They were taking more than 4.4 maf for many years but are much closer to that number today. AZ, otoh, is definitely taking more today than 10 years ago.
Is Arizona using more or ‘banking’ more. There is a difference.
@ dg – how about both for an answer? In AZ banking is using. The state has officially been banking as much as it can – but others have also been doing as much recharge as their allotments allow. AZ law permits recharging for GW credits, which can be saved up like a CD in a bank. Everyone is waiting for the big water crunch that will raise the value of those credits under current law. Or securing rights to whatever water they will need in the future. Either way it’s viewed as a can’t lose proposition.