The Loss of El Vado Dam

The Bureau of Reclamation’s announcement at Monday’s meeting of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District that it is halting work on El Vado Dam repairs raises hugely consequential questions about water management in New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande Valley. The short explanation for the halt is that the current approach to repairing the 1930s-era dam …

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Five Major Proposals for Post-2026 management of the Colorado River

With the submission of two additional proposals last week, we now have five major proposals for post-2026 Colorado River management. The folks at the Water and Tribes Intitiative have helpfully organized them in a single place. (Click on the “Proposed Alternatives for Post-2026 Operating Guidelines” bubble.) Tribal Principles A set of guiding principles proposed by …

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Always check the gate. It might be unlocked and lead somewhere interesting!

In our years of urban exploring of Albuquerque on our bicycles, my collaborator and I have learned a number of guiding principles that I realized might be worth sharing. The realization came at this gate, which of course I checked to see if it was locked. It wasn’t, which led to the discovery of a …

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Otowi flow, without the log scale: 21st century peaks are ~half what they were in 1980-2000

Alert Inkstain reader John correctly questions the impression left by the log scale I used last time ’round in my graph of flow at Otowi: [W]hile I appreciate the usefulness of logarithmic scales for being able to discern patterns at the low end of the flow range, it does somewhat hide the magnitude of the …

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Happy Rio Grande Spring Runoff!

It is telling that I got excited when I noticed inflow into New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande Valley approaching “normal”, which I now define as the median of 21st century flow. Our climate-altered world, y’all. A note on the evolution of the graph: I’ve added the “max” and “min” lines back. I dropped them because …

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New Mexico’s Rio Grande reservoirs: Running on Empty

Inspired by Jack Schmidt’s monthly “how much water is in Colorado River storage” posts (see here for last month’s), I’ve been playing with a similar tool to help me think about the status of our reservoirs on the Rio Grande system here in New Mexico. The graph above helps me with two important intuitions about …

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Tribal sovereignty and pumped storage hydropower in Nevada

Daniel Rothberg wrote this week about an important case in Nevada that is testing the boundaries of the question of tribal sovereignty: The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe filed a formal motion earlier this month to intervene in a federal regulatory proceeding that could eventually pave the way for a pumped storage hydropower project on the …

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New Mexico and the Colorado River

  A guest post from my Utton Center colleague and Colorado River research collaborator Rin Tara, staff attorney and water policy and governance analyst at the Utton Center, University of New Mexico School of Law. By Rin Tara Over the last year, I had the joy of working with John on a law review article …

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New Mexico’s Rio Grande, at the U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments tomorrow (Wed. March 20, 2024) about the fate of ongoing litigation between Texas and New Mexico about how to share the waters of the Rio Grande. The two states (Colorado is technically a party two, but this is really Texas v. New Mexico) have what they think …

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Counseling patience on the current Colorado River kerfuffles

Despite the Sturm und Drang of last week’s competing proposals to the federal government for managing drought and climate change on the Colorado River, there’s a lot to be hopeful about. On their faces, the Upper Basin and Lower Basin proposals have a lot of “Water’s for fighting over after all!” vibe. But if you …

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