No Change in Reservoir Storage … and That’s Good News

By Jack Schmidt | February 12, 2024 (cross-posted from the Center for Colorado River Studies) Nothing really changed in Colorado River Basin reservoir storage during January 2024. That is really good news as the basin prepares for the upcoming irrigation season. 1. Total basin water storage did not significantly change during January 2024 (Fig. 1, …

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A dry forecast for the Colorado River Basin. A note on policy implications.

The UC Merced Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI) points to drying over the Colorado River Basin over the next four weeks. EDDI is a new experimental tool that offers potential for tracking quickly emerging drought conditions by analyzing the evaporative demand of the atmosphere. It combines how moist things are with how hot and dry …

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In Colorado’s San Luis Valley, paying for the water they use

Folks in Colorado’s San Luis Valley are engaged in a bold experiment in western water management – charging farmers for the water they use. Jerd Smith explains: A new rule approved by the area’s largest irrigation district, known as Subdistrict 1, and the Alamosa-based Rio Grande Water Conservation District, sets fees charged to pump water …

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Are We Headed for the First Colorado River Compact Tripwire?

By Eric Kuhn and John Fleck The Bureau of Reclamation’s January 2024 “Most Probable” 24-month study forecasts that annual releases from Glen Canyon Dam for both Water Years 2025 and 2026 will be 7.48 million acre-feet per year (maf). If this happens, the ten-year total flow at Lee Ferry for the 2017-2026 period will drop …

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Colorado River Basin Reservoir Storage at the End of 2023 – Holding On to What We Have

By Jack Schmidt | January 9, 2024 There was not much loss in reservoir storage in the Colorado River basin in December 2023. Total storage in the basin’s reservoirs only declined by 17,000 acre feet during the month, and the combined contents of Lake Mead and Lake Powell increased by 68,000 acre feet. At year’s …

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Colorado River stuff roundup

Peering out across the Colorado River landscape for 2024, a few things I’ve been reading to help catch y’all up: Paying to conserve Annie Snider had a terrific story in late November about the role of federal cash in the short term solutions to the Colorado River’s challenges that needs to echo outside the usual …

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Closing in on a post-2026 Colorado River management deal (some terms and conditions may apply)

The news out of last week’s Colorado River Water Users Association is that, behind the scenes, a deal is taking shape with the potential to bring Colorado River Basin water use into balance with water supply. The deal would eliminate the “structural deficit”, and creates a framework for a compromise over the Upper Basin’s Lee …

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‘So Far, So Good’ for the Colorado River Watershed in 2023

An Inkstain guest post from Jack Schmidt, crossposted with encouragement from the Utah State University Center for Colorado River Studies By Jack Schmidt | December 7, 2023 In Summary By the end of November 2023, storage in the reservoirs of the Colorado River watershed had been reduced 1.73 million acre feet from the high of …

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Protecting Reservoir Storage Gains from Water Year 2023: How are we doing?

A guest post by Jack Schmidt of the Utah State University Future of the Colorado River Project. By Jack Schmidt A few weeks ago, I posted a perspective demonstrating that we consumed or lost to evaporation the “gains” of Water Year (WY)2011, WY2017, and WY2019 within two years of each of those large runoff events. …

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Water Year 2023 in Context: A Cautionary Tale

A guest post by Jack Schmidt of the Utah State University Future of the Colorado River Project. By Jack Schmidt The end of September marked the end of Water Year 2023 (WY2023). This is a good time to take stock of the year’s runoff and to understand how much reservoir storage improved. What kind of …

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