“This is climate change stealing your water.”

On a call this morning, Smart River Person made a really simple point that goes to the heart of my frustration about our current discussions about water shortfalls on the Rio Grande.

The discourse involves blaming – mostly downstream people, in this case Elephant Butte Reservoir users, blaming upstream people for mismanaging the river. You can see this really clearly in Theresa Davis’s recent Albuquerque Journal story on the Butte, but I’m hearing it all over.

SRP, with apologies for the paraphrase to broaden the context:

This isn’t upstream users stealing your water. This is climate change stealing your water.


  1. ‘Entitlements’ (Rights to Water); are related to ‘Right of Possession’ legalese! “The right of possession (jura possessionis) means that someone currently holds something in hand…”

  2. This Smart River Person’s statement hits the mark. Another smart water person wrote: “Nature will always be the final judge of water adjudications and sets the hard limits of water from year to year, even if groundwater pumping has long been used as a temporary cheat of this final judge.”

  3. I plain language: “All lakes, both man-made and natural are temporary” regardless of climate. That is a geomorphological axiom. Like it or not they all obey the principle of Le Chatelier. Humpty Dumpty is like a lake or a rubber band. When Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall. All the Kings Horses and all of the Kings men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again.” How many time have you put a rubber band together again after it snaps. A lake filling with sediment is analogous to stretching the rubber band. When it fills completely with sediment the river that brought the sediment overtops to lowest elevation lip and begins down-cutting as it seeks its gravitational base level.

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