Colorado River 2023 Water Use: An Optimistic Narrative

Preparing for A Thing I’m doing next week, I updated the Crazy Fleck Spreadsheet this morning of data from Reclamation’s annual Lower Basin decree accounting reports. Amid all the angst and rhetoric, it is easy to miss the salient fact made clear by this graph: Lower Basin water users have reduced their take on the …

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Tribal access to water – filling a key gap

Congress set aside substantial sums of money in 2021 and ’22 in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act to address needs for access to safe, clean drinking water. But, as John Echohawk puts it: While the appropriation of funding for infrastructure is a critical first step, it is only that – continuing …

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In New Mexico’s Middle Rio Grande, the wheels are coming off

Talking to Jake Bittle for his Grist piece on the trials and tribulations of El Vado Dam, he asked me a question I loved: “What does this mean in the larger scheme of things?” My answer: We’ve optimized entire human and natural communities around the way this aging infrastructure allows us to manipulate the flow …

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A reminder to be careful how you think about “wasted” water

A team out of Wyoming, including my Colorado River Research Group colleague Kristiana Hansen, has a new paper that reminds us that we need to be careful about how we thinking about conserving water that is being “wasted.” Their case study is an area on the New Fork in Wyoming, a tributary of the Green, …

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Important update on the Bureau of Reclamation’s Boulder City lawn

In my book Water is for Fighting Over, I delighted in this cheap shot at the Bureau of Reclamation’s Boulder City office – … a grandiose white building atop a hill … surrounded by an expanse of lawn that is embarrassing in a desert city that averages less than six inches of rain a year. …

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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 …

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Failure to fix New Mexico’s Rio Grande delivery shortfall could force drastic water cuts on central New Mexico

Central New Mexico’s Rio Grande water users are perched on the edge of a dangerous precipice because of our failure to deliver enough water to Elephant Butte Reservoir, according to a June 28, 2024, letter from the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer to the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. We’re currently 121,500 feet …

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“sad havoc” – what happens when you build a city in a flood plain

This remarkable image by Roberto Rosales, my former Albuquerque Journal colleague now taking pictures for City Desk ABQ, captures a sharp reality of Albuquerque. We built our city in a flood plain, and in particular downtown beginning in the 1880s in a low area that was part Rio Grande flood path, and part swamp. That …

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