Colorado River & the Southwest

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Climate change is shrinking Colorado River

The nation’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Mead on the Arizona/Nevada border and Lake Powell on the Arizona/Utah border, were brim full in the year 2000. Four short years later, they had lost enough water to supply California its legally apportioned share of Colorado River water for more than five years. Now, 17 years later, they still have not recovered.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Q&A: How Colorado plans to future-proof its water supply

Colorado faces an estimated water deficit of 560,000 acre-feet by 2050, due in part to an expected population increase. But it has a long-term plan to address that looming shortage. … To learn more about the [Colorado Water] plan, Water Deeply recently spoke with Bart Miller, Healthy Rivers Program director at Western Resource Advocates in Boulder.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Preventing water wars in the West could come down to free market

There was no electricity when Vickie Buchanan’s family came to Diamond Valley in 1958. Nor were there many crops. But there was water, and as early settlers, Vickie’s parents were given priority access under a rule fundamental to Western water law: “first in time, first in right.” A steady flow of farmers followed, planting alfalfa and timothy hay grass in the high-desert soil of the central Nevada valley.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Lake Mead forecast drops sharply, may trigger CAP water shortage

A federal forecast of water levels at troubled Lake Mead took a big turn for the worse this week — a 20-foot drop in the lake’s expected January 2019 elevation. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s monthly prediction for Colorado River reservoir levels says the lake could drop to 1,076.53 feet by the end of 2018 or Jan. 1, 2019. 

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Colorado River’s Course Through a Drying Landscape Is Draining Lake Mead

From Circle of Blue:

The effects of lingering drought, and the unrelenting demand for water from farmers, cities, and energy producers converged today at Lake Mead, which drained to its lowest level since 1937 when the Hoover Dam closed off the Colorado River to begin filling the largest reservoir in the United States.

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Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News Release: Lake Mead Levels to Drop to Historic Lows

From the Bureau of Reclamation:

Lake Mead, the reservoir created by Hoover Dam, is anticipated this week to reach its lowest water level since the lake’s initial filling in the 1930s. The Bureau of Reclamation’s Boulder Canyon Operations Office is projecting the elevation to drop to 1,081.75 feet above sea level during the week of July 7 and to continue to drop, reaching approximately 1,080 feet in November of this year.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Water Levels at Nevada’s Lake Mead Drop to New Low

From the Associated Press:

Drought in the southwestern U.S. will deplete the vast Lake Mead this week to levels not seen since Hoover Dam was completed and the reservoir on the Colorado River was filled in the 1930s, federal water managers said Tuesday.

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Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Lake Mead Drains to Record Low as Western Drought Deepens

From Circle of Blue:

Lake Mead — America’s largest reservoir, Las Vegas’ main water source, and an important indicator for water supplies in the Southwest — will fall this week to its lowest level since 1937 when the manmade lake was first being filled, according to forecasts from the federal Bureau of Reclamation.

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Aquafornia news

Blog: U.S. Recognizes Spectacular Scenery on Colorado River Below Hoover Dam

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal Outdoors, in a post by C. Douglas Nielsen:

If you have not yet done so, and should you have the chance, get a firsthand look at the Colorado River between Hoover Dam and Willow Beach. While it is impressive to look down upon the river from atop the dam, experiencing the river at surface level is even more remarkable.

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Aquafornia news

Commentary: Water War Bubbling Up Between California and Arizona

From the Los Angeles Times, in a commentary by Michael Hiltzik:

Once upon a time, California and Arizona went to war over water. The year was 1934 … The next water war between California and Arizona won’t be such an amusing little affair.

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Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Colorado River Researchers Find Signs of Ancient, Devastating Floods

From the Los Angeles Times:

Scientists say it would have been a catastrophe of unprecedented proportions. If the Glen Canyon Dam had failed, it would have changed the lives of millions of people and reshaped the history of the American West.

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Aquafornia news New York Times

Arizona Cities Could Face Cutbacks in Water From Colorado River, Officials Say

From The New York Times:

Arizona could be forced to cut water deliveries to its two largest cities unless states that tap the dwindling Colorado River find ways to reduce water consumption and deal with a crippling drought, officials of the state’s canal network said Tuesday.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Water Issues Draw Debate at Vegas Lawyers Event

From the Associated Press:

“A point-counterpoint debate about whether one size fits all and the federal role in managing regional water resources took added significance Thursday during an American Bar Association water-law conference at a casino in drought-threatened Las Vegas.”

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Aquafornia news Durango Herald

River Groups Could Get Funding

From The Durango Herald:

“The Colorado River basin is being listed as a critical conservation area under a new multi-billion dollar program that will fund conservation and soil-protection efforts, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack announced Tuesday.”

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Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

No Prohibition Seen in Tapping Lake Mead Water to Grow Medical Pot

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

“A new federal policy directive that could bar the delivery of Colorado River water to marijuana cultivators apparently does not apply to those in the Las Vegas Valley.”

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Aquafornia news

Commentary: A Historic Course Change on the Colorado River

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal, in a commentary by David Festa and John Entsminger:

“Today, there is water flowing in the Colorado River Delta — where water has not flowed regularly for half a century — all because water managers, conservation organizations and policymakers in both the United States and Mexico were able to find common ground.  Someone cue music heralding the ‘new era of Western water management.’”

Aquafornia news California Department of Water Resources (DWR)

DWR Spotlight: Tree Rings Link to Droughts

From the California Department of Water Resources (DWR):

“Thousand-year tree-ring reconstructions of river flows prepared by the University of Arizona for DWR are highlighted this week at a Scripps workshop in San Diego. The workshop, led by DWR Deputy Drought Manager Jeanine Jones, is to examine patterns of climate variability that may provide predictive capability for drought or help support climate change modeling.
Aquafornia news Associated Press

Court Upholds San Diego Water Deal

From the Associated Press:

“A federal appeals court says environmental reviews were properly done on the nation’s largest farm-to-city water transfer, the latest ruling to uphold a 2003 agreement on how California agencies divide that state’s share of Colorado River water.”

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Aquafornia news USA Today

Colorado River Reunites With Sea

From USA Today:

“The Colorado River has been reunited with an old friend—the sea. Thanks to an agreement between the U.S. and Mexico, water from the river has reached the Sea of Cortez in northwestern Mexico for the first time since either 1998 (according to National Geographic) or 1993 (according to AP).”

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Aquafornia news

Blog: A River Reunited — The Colorado River Reaches the Sea

From the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) Voices blog, in a post by Jennifer Pitt:

“This week, the Colorado River will be reunited with the sea – a destination it hasn’t seen in many years – thanks to the ‘pulse flow.’ Scientists monitoring the flow expect the two waters to meet sometime today [May 15], during high tide, but it’s actually possible that the river reached the sea last week, as we learned from a handful of adventurers who rode their stand-up paddle boards to the tidal interface.”