To prepare for monsoon season, Phoenix Fire recently conducted its annual swift water rescue training in the canal at Central Arizona Project’s north Phoenix headquarters. … Thanks to a 2016 cooperative agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Land Management, in emergency situations the Colorado River water flowing through the canal can be used for fire suppression anywhere along the 336-mile canal system from Lake Havasu to south of Tucson.
A new study from NASA reinforces the idea that droughts are getting worse and could become more frequent in the Western U.S. The culprit is human-caused climate change. Droughts aren’t just about precipitation, said NASA scientist and the study’s co-author Benjamin Cook.
Catching up after a busy final week of the semester at the University of New Mexico’s Water Resources Program, I [John Fleck] had time today to sit down and and think through the implications of this remarkable Bureau of Reclamation press release. It did a great job of achieving one of the primary goals of a news release, capturing a news cycle with the message of increasing risk of a “shortage” declaration by 2020, which would impose water delivery cutbacks on Nevada, Arizona, and Mexico.
In a pointed message Wednesday, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman said drought and low flows continue on the Colorado with no end in sight, so it’s up to those who rely on the river to stave off a coming crisis.
Starting with a hardhat trek through Hoover Dam on Wednesday, April 11, the Water Education Foundation’s (WEF) annual bus tour of the lower Colorado River embarked from Las Vegas for a three-day interpretive look at Reclamation facilities, riverine environments and municipal works located along the lower stretches of the river.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the [Colorado] river, released projections showing a 52 percent chance the river’s biggest reservoir, Lake Mead in Arizona and Nevada, will fall low enough in 2020 to trigger cutbacks under agreements governing the system. … The shortage projection prompted Bureau of Reclamation Chief Brenda Burman to prod the seven river states to finish long-delayed contingency plans for worsening conditions.
2018 has brought record-low snowpack levels to many locations in the Colorado River Basin, making this the driest 19-year period on record. With the depressed snowpack and warming conditions, experts indicate that runoff from the Rocky Mountains into Lake Powell this spring will yield only 42 percent of the long-term average. With drought and low runoff conditions dating back to 2000, this current period is one of the worst drought cycles over the past 1,200 plus years.
This issue of Western Water discusses the challenges facing the Colorado River Basin resulting from persistent drought, climate change and an overallocated river, and how water managers and others are trying to face the future.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
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.’”