Hustling to get Imperial Irrigation District water reduction tools in place

Janet Wilson had a super helpful piece this week in the Desert Sun about steps being taken (in a hurry) to get the institutional widgets in place to meet Lower Basin commitments to reduce water use under a deal hashed out in spring 2023 to head of Colorado River NEPA litigation. If all goes as …

Continue reading ‘Hustling to get Imperial Irrigation District water reduction tools in place’ »

Forests to Faucets (and Headgates!)

I spent a couple of days last week out of Pagosa Springs in southern Colorado, touring forest restoration work in the headwaters of the San Juan-Chama Project, which produces critical water supplies for central New Mexico. In others words, water for my neighhbors and me. We’ve learned over and over in the last couple of …

Continue reading ‘Forests to Faucets (and Headgates!)’ »

“the market” doesn’t seem particularly worried about California’s groundwater law

New US Department of Agriculture report out this week shows the dollar value per acre of irrigated California cropland continuing to rise: Above is a quick plot of the data for six of the seven states included in the Colorado River Basin. THIS IS NOT COLORADO RIVER BASIN IRRIGATED ACREAGE. Large areas of many of …

Continue reading ‘“the market” doesn’t seem particularly worried about California’s groundwater law’ »

Las Vegas abandons proposal to pump rural Nevada groundwater

When I was writing Water is For Fighting Over five years ago, I built a little analytical model of Las Vegas water – projections of per capita demand and population growth, current patterns of water use and banking, risk to Colorado River water supply. At the time, the Southern Nevada Water Authority was aggressively pursuing …

Continue reading ‘Las Vegas abandons proposal to pump rural Nevada groundwater’ »

Some thoughts on “the West’s Disappearing Water”

We lost the daily direct flights between Albuquerque and Tucson a decade ago when the economy tanked, which left me in a shuttle yesterday morning at sunup driving north on I-10 from Tucson to Phoenix to catch a flight home after a couple of very intense, very productive days discussing water.* It’s a beautiful stretch …

Continue reading ‘Some thoughts on “the West’s Disappearing Water”’ »

On the importance of getting the boundaries right in water management and governance

I’m working this weekend on two talks, one a webinar Wednesday with Audubon and the other a lecture for UNM Water Resources grad students Thursday, that both touch on one of the fundamental challenges in getting water management right – the question of how we draw the boundaries, both geographically but also conceptually – around …

Continue reading ‘On the importance of getting the boundaries right in water management and governance’ »

Despite drought, California agriculture adds 30,000 jobs

It’s increasingly clear that the lessons we’re learning from California’s drought are not those we expected. Far from the doom of so much of the rhetoric, Californians are adapting to scarcity with remarkable aplomb. The latest data point, from Phillip Reese and Dale Kasler of the Sacramento Bee, may be the most interesting yet: California’s …

Continue reading ‘Despite drought, California agriculture adds 30,000 jobs’ »

The struggle with municipal water rates in response to conservation

The downside to the remarkable water conservation I’ve been writing about (see yesterday’s Albuquerque numbers, for example) is revenue. Water utilities sell water. If people use less water, water utilities make less money. One option is to shift to more fixed-costs pricing, charging a flat rate for service, but then you lose the behavioral incentive …

Continue reading ‘The struggle with municipal water rates in response to conservation’ »

Albuquerque at 127 gallons per person per day – how low can cities go?

I’m giving a talk next week at the CLE Law of the River conference in Las Vegas about what I think is one of the two most important trends in western water management. The first, which we hear a lot about, is the pressure posed by climate change and drought. The second, which I don’t think …

Continue reading ‘Albuquerque at 127 gallons per person per day – how low can cities go?’ »

California ag showing remarkable resilience

Amid the rhetoric of doom, California agriculture has so far been growing its way through drought: Even as many farmers cut back their planting, California’s farm economy overall has been surprisingly resilient. Farm employment increased by more than 1 percent last year. Gross farm revenue from crop production actually increased by two-tenths of 1 percent …

Continue reading ‘California ag showing remarkable resilience’ »