Ignoring an Inconvenient Colorado River Basin Risk

By John Fleck It is agonizing to watch this, but here we are. With efforts by the Colorado River Basin states to craft an agreement to share the river’s water skidding, brakes screeching, toward a cliff, we appear on the brink of repeating the disastrous mistake the authors of the Colorado River Compact made a …

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On the Colorado River, there are no Simple Disputes

By Eric Kuhn One of the commentors to our January 19th, 2024, blog post titled “Are We headed for the First Colorado River Compact Tripwire?” – John C. (who, by-the-way runs a very talented water resources engineering firm) raised several finer points to explore further: The first point deals with obligations of each Basin to …

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Opening the gates on the 2024 irrigation season in New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande Valley

The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District’s crews will usher the first water into the ditches of New Mexico’s middle valley Feb. 26, district Water Distribution Division Manager Matt Martinez told the district’s board at yesterday afternoon’s meeting. The early water doesn’t go to irrigators right away. It’s needed to “charge” the system, wetting earthen ditches …

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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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Senate hearing next week on Tribal access to clean water: it takes more than just a pile of money

The U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee is holding an important hearing Thursday on S. 2385, a bill to refine the tools needed to help Tribal communities gain access to something that most non-Indian communities in the western United States have long taken for granted: federally subsidized systems to deliver safe, clean drinking water to our …

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Rio Grande flow at Otowi in decline, fancy graph edition

I’ve been updating the crufty old code I use to generate graphs to help me (and colleagues) think about river flows. This one’s a little busy, so maybe for specific nerd colleagues’ use, and not general consumption? It’s based on a request from a friend who uses these, and asked for a visualization of the …

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New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande: forest of cottonwoods, forest of pecans

  This Rio Grande crossing, just south of Belen, 30-plus miles downstream from Albuquerque, has changed dramatically since Jack Delano took the picture above in spring 1943. The Bosque I’ve stared at Delano’s picture often, because of the story it tells – a broad open river valley. It’s nothing like that today. I pieced together …

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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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