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Preparing Comments for Public Participation During the Reconsultation of Interim Guidelines

February 22, 2021
by John Weisheit

Kirk Walters from The Toledo Blade, 2004
Kirk Walters from The Toledo Blade, 2004

NOTE:  This site will be updated regurarly until December of 2025.

Here are recent and relevant news features about the serious issues that face the Colorado River Basin. We recommend that the nonsense stop immediately, and then get this house in order.

NEWS & OPINION
News by Date

News by Subject: Drought Contingency Planning (DCPs)

News by Subject: Tribal Water

News by Subject: River Augmentation

News by Subject: The Salton Sea (geologic through)

News by Subject: Central Arizona Project and Groundwater Depletions

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NARRATIVES

  • "The true purpose of water is to beautify the earth." Daniel B. Luten, Jr. & Luten on Energy & Water (with kind permission from Guilford Press).
  • "We need a Congress that will say no to any more water boondoggles in the West. We need a moratorium on boosters and developers and raiders who can’t or won’t see the consequences of their acts. We need to scale down our expectations and advise a lot of hopeful immigrants that what they seek is not here." Wallace Stegner & LA Times Op Ed.

It could be said that movements to create sustainable and resilient communities—which include functional ecosystems—are considered unAmerican, if not illegal, in the sense that legislators have yet to acknowledge that the planet's natural resources have transitioned from abundance, to scarcity and uncertainty. Moreover, that this transition period will carry a sizeable investment package and that cooperation with other states and sovereigns will be difficult for reasons that these communities suffer from the very same issues.

The purpose of 2007 Interim Guidelines was to generate a process in which shortage declarations could be avoided for the seven states of the Colorado River Basin (CRB) and Mexico, and simultaneously continue to be generous about providing more water uses for more people. In 2014 it was recognized that program accomplishments were insufficient and 5-years later the seven states and Mexico finally entered into emergency drought contingency planning contracts and treaty minutes, which also has not yet accomplished positive results, because mandatory shortages begin in January 1, 2022 for Arizona, Nevada and Mexico, and the amount of that shortage is 631,000 acre-feet. Further cutbacks and hydropower cessation could happen in Water Year 2022 (October to September), should the basin's hydrology continue to be impacted by low moisture and high evaporation.

What this means is that the approaches of the last 14-years, which truly range from kick-the-can to gradualism, are not the energetic strategies required to inspire the public's trust toward management in the Colorado River Basin; the very river management paradigm that the rest of the world has decided to emulate.

The essence of the problem is the Colorado River Compact of 1922 and the language of compromise that it contains; it is an unfinished document; it is the best effort under the circumstances of it's time. In this document there are provisions to adjust the document as necessary. Though this formative document has never been changed, a compilation of surrogate laws, agreements and policies were created and called, at first, "The Hoover Dam Documents," and now more commonly called, "The Law of the River." This layered stack of legal papers has not solved the water security problems of our times, and neither do the public laws and codes of the state and federal governments. In other words, we just aren't prepared for the pace of change that is quickening with every passing decade.

The single-most controversial topic of 1922 was the water budget of the entire Colorado River Basin. The deficits that were intentionally embedded into this document still remain the dominate issue today, after four generations of passing time. The second issue was how will the real-time water budget, which is variable by decade and century, be equitably allocated amongst the seven states, Mexico and the tribes. Why is this so difficult? Everybody knows how to balance a checkbook and create a household budget, and everybody understands the consequences when acccidental and deliberate blunders occur. What this history suggests is that the principle of precautionary planning was not addressed at the front ends of these negotiations, and that the back end negotiations are merely ineffectual stop gap measures that waste money and time.

Creative water marketing contracts and various engineering solutions to augment the supply have been proposed, but it is vitally important to understand that the completion of these solutions will take many decades to implement, and then, it is highly likely that the water budget will be exceeded, yet again. This is why sustainibility and resilency goals are just words, rather than vigorous action items. If substanative reform does not happen in the next five years, then the basin's only assurrance is this: it works, until it doesn't. This is also known as reckless abandonment.

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BASELINE DOCUMENTS

CONSISTENT CLIMATE SCIENCE

VISIONARY SCIENCE

NATIONAL ACADEMYY OF SCIENCES

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION

LEGAL

SOLUTIONS

BOOKS

RESOURCES FROM TRIBES
Chronology of events toward equity

RESOURCES FROM UNIVERSITIES
Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions

Center for Colarado River Studies: Future of the Colorado River Project

Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy

 

RESOURCES FROM BUREAU OF RECLAMATION
Colorado River System Simulation (CRSS) and Scenario Planning

NEWS & OPINION
News by Date

News by Subject: Drought Contingency Planning (DCPs)

News by Subject: Tribal Water

News by Subject: River Augmentation

ON THE COLORADO RIVER WEBSITE:
Public Comments for a Sustainable and Resilient Colorado River Basin

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