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USBR's Demand and Supply Study for the Colorado River Basin of 2012
December 12, 2012
This study, prepared by the Bureau of Reclamation and the seven states of the Colorado River basin (with technical asistance from a few contractors), was completed because Congress forced the issue through legislation and modest funding mechanisms. It must be appreciated, however, that the public has been asking the Natural Resource Committees and Reclamation to perform a long-term and basin-wide assessment for more than a half-century. The reason was to avoid the condition the basin now faces: human consumption has over-extended the natural supply, and water curtailments and empty reservoirs will be the consequence.
This study is unique in that the demand side is assessed for the first time and includes the projected impacts of climate change to year 2060. As important as this far-reaching study is, the National Academy of Sciences, for example, was not asked to provide an independent review of the methodology and conclusions.
The document is tame in explaining the persistant decline in the natural flow since 1906 (trend of decline). Why it took this long for Reclamation and the states to address this known rate of decline until now, is a serious miscalculation. Worst case scenarios of reservoir levels could have been provided visually to demonstrate the seriousness of the problem to the public, but were instead presented in vague risk analysis graphics. See: Trace 21 by the Modeling Assumption Sub-group of 2011. Trace 21 is a CRRS run that represents a persistent dry period in the Colorado River Basin that occurred between 1928 and 1982. See: Graph by Pulwarty and Melis, 2001.
The study offers an assumed hope that humans might actually start to curb their consumptive behavior, that corporations will lower their greenhouse gas emissions, and planning for smart growth will somehow not become an oxymoron.
In the last century, documents were provided to Congress to assess the supply side of the Colorado River, and generous funding for grandiose engineering projects soon followed.
The documents about the hydrology were not entirely correct, and in this post-construction era the water managers now understand that drying times can last for centuries and flood magnitudes can overwhelm spillway capacities.
Generous state and federal funding will not happen in this century for solving the problem of imbalances caused by over-reaching the demand side of the equation, which includes the subsequent damage brought upon the natural water cycle, and caused by the excessive human consumption of fossil energy fuels.
If funding is somehow pulled out of a magician's hat, the administrative record indicates clearly that maximum human consumption will continue and the problem will never be solved.
The age of abundance is over, with or without adjusting to climate change, and water managers must accept the supply the basin has been given and abandon the ideology of chasing the balloons of demand.
CLICK HERE to download the combined documents of the Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study (1,655 pages).
CLICK HERE for the two-page Fact Sheet.
2018 - Tribal Water Study of the Ten-Tribe Partnership (documents combined and starting with the press release). This study is a new feature of the 2012 Basin Study.
Here is the work of the other BASIN STUDIES in the arid lands onf the USA.
Bureau of Reclamation
Attention: Ms. Pam Adams, LC-2721
P.O. Box 61470
Boulder City, NV 89006-1470
Facsimile transmission: 702-293-8418
SECURE WATER ACT
REPONSE FROM ACADEMICS
2010 - INTERIM REPORT No. 1
Technical Part B
Tecnical Report D
2012 - FINAL SUPPLY AND DEMAND STUDY
LIST OF TIMELY COMMENTS
Webinar of April 3, 2013
The 50-year remedies are arbitrarily under the purview of the Bureau of Reclamation, the seven states, the tribes, and selected environmental groups. Their preliminary reports are overdue.
Links to ON THE COLORADO articles on this subject
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