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July 13, 2021
Kirk Walters from The Toledo Blade, 2004
NOTE: This site will be updated until December of 2025 (through the preparation of the 2026 Annual Operating Plan (AOP)).
- We present recent and relevant news features about the serious issues that face the Colorado River Basin.
- We also present baseline policy documents and climate science.
- We recommend that the nonsense stop immediately and get this house in order.
NEWS & OPINION
News by Date
- September 12, 2019 - Could "Black Swan" Events Spawned by Climate Change Wreak Havoc in the Colorado River Basin? Gary Pitzer of Water Education Foundation.
- February 7, 2021 - Exclusive: Hedge funds eye water markets that could net billions, as levels drop in Lake Powell. Zak Podmore of Salt Lake Tribune.
- February 26, 2021 - USU Study #6: Alternative Management Paradigms for the Future of the Colorado and Green Rivers. (archived here).
- April 15, 2021 - The Water Report: Saving the Colorado River (demand management). James Eklund.
- April 19, 2021 - The April 2021 24-Month Study was a shocker, but is it too optimistic? Eric Kuhn.
- April 27, 2021 - Pumping up fear along the Colorado River. George Sibley.
- April 29, 2021 - 9th Circuit Revives Navajo Nation's Water Rights Claim Against DOI. Rueters.
- May 4, 2021 - New normals: The Southwest has grown hotter and drier over the past decade, data shows. NOAA 30-year averages since 1901. Ian James of Arizona Republic.
- May 11, 2021 - Arizona Legislature Urges Congress to study feasibility of harvesting Mississippi River floodwaters to replenish Colorado River supply. Rep. Dunn.
- May 13, 2021 - Colorado River water community can solve problems without tossing compacts. Tyrell (response to Sibley).
- May 14, 2021 - The Hoover Dam made life in the West possible. Or so we thought. Timothy Egan in NY Times.
- May 14, 2021 - 9th Circuit rebukes U.S. on Native interests in Colorado River rights. Hank Lacey of Law Week Colorado.
- May 18, 2021 - Arizona's aquifers remain at risk from "unsustainable" pumping. Tony Davis of Arizona Daily Star.
- May 24, 2021 - Amid calls for more water storage in arid West, large dam projects stall. Karin Rives of S & P Global.
- May 27, 2021 - Predicting the future: Science Moab speaks with Dr. Kevin Wheeler about the future of the Colorado River in Moab Sun News.
- May 27, 2021 - Epic drought tests Hoover Dam as water levels In Lake Mead plummet. Ian James of Arizona Republic.
- May 29, 2021 - Once again, Arizona hopes to import out-of-state water in face of crisis. Tony Davis of Arizona Daily Star.
- June 2, 2021 - Foreign firms sucking "virtual" water from America's parched Southwest. Diana Kruz of Mother Jones.
- June 2, 2021 - Mega-Dairies: Disappearing wells and Arizona's deepening water crisis. Tony Davis in The Guardian.
- June 2, 2021 - Amid dire Colorado River outlook States plan to tap their Lake Mead savings accounts. Brett Walton of Circle of Blue.
- June 6, 2021 - Dry times, dire consequences, poor runoff, adds to water woes. Dennis Webb of Grand Junction's Daily Sentinel.
- June 10, 2021 - Red Alert: Lake Mead declines to new low as Colorado River crisis deepens. Ian James of Arizona Republic.
- June 11, 2021 - How to save the Salton Sea: Proposal to import seawater across California desert is biggest since Hoover Dam. Gustavo Solis of The Desert Sun.
- June 11, 2021 - 'Worse-case' CAP shortages threaten the Tucson aquifer's delicate balance. Tony Davis of Arizona Daily Star.
- June 13, 2021 - Lake Powell Pipeline targets water promised to Utes in scheme Tribe sees as another racially based scheme. Emma Penrod and special for Salt Lake Tribune.
- June 14, 2021 - Salton Sea, long a disaster, is on the brink of major collapse. OpEd by Frank Ruiz in The Desert Sun.
- June 14, 2021 - Governor Cox is eager for a nuclear future: Utahn's should tell him why we're not. Robert Gehrke of Salt Lake Tribune.
- June 18, 2021 - If Lake Powell’s Water Levels Keep Falling, A Multi-State Reservoir Release May Be Needed. Michael Elizabeth Sakas of Colorado Public Radio.
- June 18, 2021 - West Risks Blackouts as Drought Reduces Hydroelectric Power. Katherine Blunt and Jim Carlton of the Wall Street Journal.
- June 19, 2021 - Las Vegas Pushes Land Swap to Balance Growth and Conservation. Sam Metz of Associated Press.
- June 18, 2021 - The West has a dangerous lack of water and will:The management strategy to slow the draining of Lake Mead does not appear to be working.. Todd Fitchette of Farm Press.
- June 18, 2021 - Extreme Heat Wave Threatens Vulnerable Communities In The West: Heat is responsible for more deaths in the U.S. than all other natural disasters combined. Anita Snow of Associated Press.
- June 27, 2021 - Here's What You Need To Know About Lake Mead's Falling Water Levels. Hillary Davis of Las Vegas Sun News.
- June 28, 2021 - OpEd: Lake Mead is dropping. Time to think about Worst Case Scenario? Joanna Allhands in Arizona Republic.
- July 1, 2021 - 'Megadrought' Along Border Strains US - Mexico Water Relation. Varady et al from The Conversation.
- July 2, 2021 - The Colorado River is shrinking: hard choices lie ahead this scientist warns. Erik Stokstad of AAAS.
- July 15, 2021 - Press coverage combined. A press conference at Hoover Dam. Coalition of citizens and elected officials.
- July 19, 2021 - Conservation Groups Want Feds to Investigate Water Districts Use of Federal Funds. Owen Tucker-Smith & Brian Maffly of the Salt Lake Tribune. Group Letter to the U.S. Inspector General.
- July 19, 2021 - Lake Meads Water Shortage Sign Of Peril For Southwest. Timothy O'Brien; Bloomberg.
- July 20, 2021 - OpEd: Feeling The California Drought On My Family Farm. David Massumoto; LAT.
- July 20, 2021 - Drought In Utah Town Halts Growth. Jack Healy; NYT.
- July 21, 2021 - OpEd: The Thirsty West's Dreaded Water Crisis Is Here. David Von Drehle; WaPo.
- July 22, 2021 - Twelve feature stories about evacuating upper basin reservoirs to protect hydropower production at Glen Canyon Dam.
News by Subject: Drought Contingency Planning (DCPs)
News by Subject: Tribal Water
News by Subject: Scenario Planning and "Black Swan Events"
News by Subject: Climate Adaptation
News by Subject: Hydropower
News by Subject: River Augmentation
News by Subject: The Salton Sea (geologic through)
News by Subject: Central Arizona Project and Groundwater Depletions
News by Subject: Unsustainable Urban Growth
- Daniel B. Luten, Jr: "I suggest to you that moving water is more to be admired than used, that the primary purpose of water is to beautify the earth." Luten on Energy & Water (with kind permission from Guilford Press).
- Wallace Stegner: "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." LA Times Op Ed.
- Luna Leopold: Water and the Conservation Movement & A Reverence for Rivers & Bibliography. "...we seem not to have learned how the political and economic aspects of our lives are related to geography and climate, nor have we been able to bend social custom to accept the constraints placed on us by geography and climate. One of the obvious constraints is the finite nature of nonrenewable resources. Even those resources that are not physically destroyed by use, as oil and coal are destroyed by burning, are usually so geographically dispersed by use that they can never again be collected together in usable concentrations."
- Donald Worster: Epilogue (a vision statement). Rivers of Empire. Oxford Press; 1985. "A river, to be sure, is a means to economic production, but before that it is an entity unto itself, with its own processes, dynamics, and values. In a sense it is a sacred being, something we have not created, and therefore worthy of our respect and understanding. To use a river without violating its intrinsic qualities will require much of us. It will require our learning to think like a river, our trying to become a river-adaptive people."
- Universities Council On Water Resources: Water Promises: Much Ado About Nothing, 2009. "...the manager’s challenge is to balance supply and demand in an ever-changing natural and social environment, with a constantly-moving target. In this respect, the expertise of hydrologists, fluvial geomorphologists and geo-hydrologists, is fundamental to any scientific modeling of the water world."
On The Colorado Narrative: 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. This is why this country will need to develop an ethical national water policy, which was attempted in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and with very limited success.
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 other words, the proposed solution is a circle back.
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 613,000 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 heat traps, dry soils, increased consumption by thristy plants and people, and all due to disrupted circulation patterns of ocean and atmosphere.
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; it is a circle back.
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, and yet another circle back. 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 abandon.
The Imperative Issues
- Initiate a focus on developing local, regional, national, and international climate adaption programs.
- Focus attention on improving the function of the natural watershed, especially the landscapes above 7,000 feet.
- Abandon the preferred and myopic climate record from 1906 to 2019 (stationarity is dead). The natural supply data of the 20th century is skewed; it was the wettest century of the last 1,200-years.
- Incorporate the long-term paleoclimate record with the purpose of preparing managment plans to prevent the consequences of "mega-drought" and "mega-flood". Droughts and floods are persistent over time; such events occurred during the multi-century climate stages known as the Medieval Warm Period (+1 degree C) and the Little Ice Age (-1 degree C).
- Expand the information provided in Appendix N and U from 2007 Interim Guidelines and use this information to produce the narratives about cumulative impacts and affected environments.
HISTORY OF CLIMATE DISRUPTION
This page is Part One
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