Not drought

From my conversation last week with Drew Kann at CNN:

To Fleck, all of this signals that the reduced flows in recent years are likely not an aberration, but rather a glimpse of the challenges posed by a hotter, drier climate.
“We’re now seeing the model for what the future of Colorado River Basin water use looks like, where scarcity is the norm and drought is not some special short-term thing,” he said. “This is the way of life we’re in now with climate change reducing the flow on the river.”


  1. We’ve long known that the structural deficit in the Lower Basin is unsustainable. We didn’t pay much attention to it even as Lower Basin uses increased in the late 20th century because the river gave us many bountiful years. (Why worry about your annual budget when you keep winning the hydrologic lottery.) But the days of regular equalization releases are behind us now and it is time to adapt to the new reality–that there simply isn’t 9 MAF for the Lower Basin States and Mexico to expect to use each year. Neither the 2007 Guidelines nor DCP embrace that reality; both are premised on the Lower Basin using its full apportionment each year, with reductions occurring only after Lake Mead has fallen below certain levels. That approach dooms Lake Mead to perpetually hover around the 2007/DCP shortage elevations.

    What is needed is a fundamental change in mindset: the Lower Basin must reduce the volume of water it uses in “normal” years to something well below 9 MAF, only taking more when and if the reservoirs fill again. The difficulty (obviously) is how to make the necessary reductions, or more precisely who is to reduce their use. Some think the entire reduction must fall on Arizona, and specifically the CAP, as the junior priority holder. As long as that opinion prevails, it is unlikely that the Lower Basin can reach agreement on a long-term solution to the structural deficit.

  2. 1. If the volume of the river is less than the assumed volume, and/or less than amount currently used, then the working quantity must be adjusted.
    2. Right now.
    3. All state, tribes, and Mexico quantities will be less.
    4. The new agreed to volumes should be less than the current inflow at Lake Powell. Allow the reservoirs some water to begin refilling.
    5. A price ought to applied to the use of water. Like fees on vehicle gasoline to help care for roads. Funds could be used to make necessary improvements on the system.
    6. Create a funded authority with power to make decisions over the whole river.

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