The only lever we currently control is the demand lever.
– Brad Udall, Stegner Colorado River Symposium, March 18, 2022
Colorado State University climate researcher Brad Udall poked again last week at a question he’s been thinking and speaking about for the past year – the knock-on effects of summer warming in the Colorado River Basin.
Precipitation declines in late spring and summer, combined with summer warming, are leaving us with dry soils as we head into the winters that follow. Which means less runoff in the basin.
His talk included a graph of new modeling being done by a group of Colorado River researchers. Under a continuation of the hydrology we’ve had for the past two decades, the total storage of Lake Mead and Lake Powell bumps along at basically empty for the foreseeable future.
And Brad, a scientist whose work more than most straddles the scientific and policy worlds, shared his “biggest fear” – that it’s easier for basin managers to let the system crash than to make the hard choices needed to avoid that crash.