Topic: Colorado River

Overview

Colorado River

Serving as the “lifeline of the Southwest,” and one of the most heavily regulated rivers in the world, the Colorado River provides water to 35 million people and more than 4 million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000 square miles.

From its headwaters northwest of Denver in the Rocky Mountains, the 1,450-mile long river and its tributaries pass through parts of seven states: Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico,  Nevada, Utah and Wyoming and is also used by the Republic of Mexico. Along the way, almost every drop of the Colorado River is allocated for use.

The Colorado River Basin is also home to a range of habitats and ecosystems from mountain to desert to ocean.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Reckoning ahead for Arizona as water imbalance grows on Colorado River

In Arizona, water scarcity is like the background hum of conversation in a popular restaurant: unrelenting. But even in this desert state, the ever-present strain on water supplies could soon be felt more acutely. As soon as 2019, the water level in Lake Mead on the Colorado River could drop below an elevation of 1,075 feet. That will trigger mandatory cutbacks in water diversions from the reservoir under an agreement negotiated between the federal government and three lower-basin states that rely on the river: Arizona, California and Nevada.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Q&A: How the Colorado River’s future depends on the Salton Sea

California’s largest lake, the Salton Sea, is an accident. It was created in 1905 when a levee broke on an irrigation canal, flooding a giant desert playa. Today it has become a sticking point in negotiations between three states over the future of the Colorado River. … To help us understand all this, Water Deeply recently spoke with Michael Cohen, a senior research associate at the Pacific Institute, a water policy think-tank based in Oakland.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Calls to rethink the Colorado River’s iconic dams grow louder

Tens of thousands of rafters paddle down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon National Park each year, though most don’t scan the Redwall Limestone canyon sides for bore holes around River Mile 39. But one group of rafters that launched in mid-March was keen to see those holes and the ashy looking sediment piled beneath them. The holes mark the exploratory tinkering of those who were itching to build another dam on the Colorado decades ago.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

War of words flares in Arizona over Lake Mead water

Officials in Arizona have reached an impasse on a multistate agreement aimed at storing more Colorado River water in Lake Mead, but Southern Nevada Water Authority chief John Entsminger said he is confident the deal will still get done.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Lake Powell to release above-average amount of water to Lake Mead

The federal government said Monday it plans to release an above-average amount of water from a major reservoir in the Southwestern U.S. this year, but it’s less than many hoped after a healthy snow season across much of the West.

Aquafornia news The Arizona Republic

American Rivers puts lower Colorado River atop its annual list of troubled waters

Uncertainty over proposals to prop up Lake Mead and avoid a water shortage in the Southwest has landed the lower Colorado River atop a conservation group’s annual list of “America’s Most Endangered Rivers.”

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Trump, Western storms cast uncertainty on Colorado River

The situation last summer was as clear to accept as it was sobering. Prolonged drought had strained an already overallocated Colorado River, and nowhere was this more visible than at the reservoirs along the river.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River Delta
Published 2017

The Colorado River Delta once spanned nearly 2 million acres and stretched from the northern tip of the Gulf of California in Mexico to Southern California’s Salton Sea. Today it’s one-tenth that size, yet still an important estuary, wildlife habitat and farming region even though Colorado River flows rarely reach the sea.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

California: $400 million plan to slow largest lake shrinkage

California Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration on Thursday proposed spending nearly $400 million over 10 years to slow the shrinking of the state’s largest lake just as it is expected to evaporate an accelerated pace. 

Announcement

Despite Above-Average Snowfall in the Rockies, Lower Colorado River Likely to Remain in Drought
Experts will update you on the latest conditions and forecasts during our three-day tour

Since 2000, the Colorado River Basin has experienced an historic, extended drought causing reservoir storage in the Colorado River system to decline from nearly full to about half of capacity. For the Lower Basin, a key point has been to maintain the level of Lake Mead to prevent a shortage declaration.

A healthy snowfall in the Rockies has reduced the odds of a shortage this year, but the basin states still must come to terms with a static supply and growing demands, as well as future impacts from climate change.

On our Lower Colorado River Tour, April 5-7, you will meet with water managers from the three Lower Basin states: Nevada, Arizona and California. Federal, state and local agencies will update you on the latest hydrologic conditions and how recent storms might change plans for water supply and storage.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Study shows how a warming world is changing the Colorado River

Above-average snowpack in the Rocky Mountains this year may bring some relief to the Colorado River Basin, which has been in a drought since 2000. But the long-term picture for the region is less rosy after a newly published study found just how much higher temperatures are impacting river flow.

Aquafornia news Desert Sun

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Big unfinished business for Trump — Colorado River deals, the shrinking Salton Sea

Two days before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, outgoing Interior Secretary Sally Jewell laid out a game plan for averting serious water shortages along the Colorado River. … Her announcement accompanied a separate accord in which the Interior Department pledged to coordinate with California officials to manage the shrinking Salton Sea …

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Western drought watchers eye Lake Mead water level

Arizona would be the first state to feel the effects of Colorado River cutbacks if the water level continues to fall at drought-stricken Lake Mead, an environmental advocacy group says in a new report. The Western Resource Advocates reached its conclusion as the vast reservoir behind Hoover Dam sits at 39 percent of capacity.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Mountain snows that feed Colorado River look good so far

Snowpack in the mountains that feeds the Colorado River is slightly above the long-term average this winter — welcome news in the drought-stricken Southwest.

Aquafornia news NPR

High demand, low supply: Colorado River water crisis hits across the West (with audio)

The Colorado River is like a giant bank account for seven different states. Now it’s running short. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

After slow start, snow is catching up in Western mountains

After a dry autumn, snowfall is rebounding to normal levels at Western ski areas and in the mountains that feed the vital Colorado River.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Delayed Colorado River deal will likely fall to Trump administration to finish

Several months ago, managers of water agencies in California, Arizona and Nevada were expressing optimism they could finalize a deal to use less water from the dwindling Colorado River before the end of the Obama administration.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Feds give 20 more years to Glen Canyon Dam on Colorado River

The federal government is committing to at least another 20 years of use of a huge Colorado River dam that officials call crucial to states in the West, but that critics say is unstable and should be removed.

Aquafornia news Phoenix Business Journal

Arizona water leaders confer with Colorado River states on drought contingency plan

[Arizona] Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke is meeting with other Colorado River system users in Las Vegas at the annual Colorado River Water User Association Conference running through Dec. 16. … On Dec. 15, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will unveil the program for management of the Colorado River between Lakes Powell and Mead.

Western Water Magazine

Two Countries, One River: Crafting a New Agreement
Fall 2016

This issue of Western Water examines the ongoing effort between the United States and Mexico to develop a new agreement to the 1944 Treaty that will continue the binational cooperation on constructing Colorado River infrastructure, storing water in Lake Mead and providing instream flows for the Colorado River Delta.

Aquafornia news Colorado Public Radio

Colorado River planners eye new playbook as climate change, drought squeeze supply

Business as usual on the Colorado River may be about to come to a screeching halt. One of the worst recorded droughts in human history has stretched water supplies thin across the far-reaching river basin, which serves 40 million people. … With an official water shortage imminent, Arizona, Nevada and California are taking matters into their own hands.

Western Water Excerpt Gary Pitzer Jennifer Bowles

Two Countries, One River: Crafting a New Agreement
Fall 2016

As vital as the Colorado River is to the United States and Mexico, so is the ongoing process by which the two countries develop unique agreements to better manage the river and balance future competing needs.

The prospect is challenging. The river is over allocated as urban areas and farmers seek to stretch every drop of their respective supplies. Since a historic treaty between the two countries was signed in 1944, the United States and Mexico have periodically added a series of arrangements to the treaty called minutes that aim to strengthen the binational ties while addressing important water supply, water quality and environmental concerns.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

Q&A: On the Colorado River, climate change is water change

How low can the Colorado go? When will we get back to “normal” winters? Can we blame it all on climate change? To address some of these questions, the Colorado River Research Group recently released a concise four-page paper explaining how climate change is affecting the river.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Study — Next US president must act fast on Colorado River

The next U.S. president will have to act quickly to chart a course so the Colorado River can continue supplying water to millions of city-dwellers, farmers, Indian tribes and recreational users in the Southwest, according to a university research study made public Monday.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

More birds, new trees after Colorado River ‘pulse flow’

Fresh stands of cottonwood and willow trees rising in the Colorado River Delta are evidence of the lasting environmental benefits an eight-week “pulse flow” of water deliveries to the area more than two years ago, according to a newly released report by U.S. and Mexican scientists.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Two years ago, Coachella Valley Water District’s permit for its largest groundwater facility expired. Now the district is applying for a new permit.

The Coachella Valley Water District has for decades been using a series of oblong ponds carved into the desert near the base of Mt. San Jacinto to capture imported water from the Colorado River. … Now CVWD is applying to the federal Bureau of Land Management for a new permit, and the application could face resistance from the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians as the tribe fights the district in federal court in a landmark case over water rights.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

US southwest faces threat of megadroughts with rising temps

Already dealing with parched conditions, the U.S. Southwest faces the threat of megadroughts this century as temperatures rise, says a new study that found the risk is reduced if heat-trapping gases are curbed.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Q&A: Fights looming over water? Author examines water in the West and finds reasons to be optimistic

With Lake Mead receding year after year and the threat of a shortage looming, the overallocated Colorado River seems to be approaching a breaking point. But John Fleck argues this crisis doesn’t necessarily mean we’re headed for a future in which conflicts flare and communities run dry.

Aquafornia news Capital Public Radio

It takes a river: A 135-mile journey down the Colorado (with audio)

Each spring, a group of UC Davis student scientists and their professors take a whitewater rafting trip through the Grand Canyon to study a river that sustains 40 million people. Capital Public Radio’s Amy Quinton traveled with them.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Scientists concerned about beetles’ effect on rare bird

It was a good plan: Bring in hungry beetles that feed only on nonnative salt cedar trees to get a handle on a hardy, invasive species that was crowding riverbanks across the West and leaching precious water from the drought-stricken region.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

The forecast for Lake Mead — Hot and dry with plenty of anxiety

A reckoning arrives every August for the Colorado River and the 40 million people across the West who depend on it.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Feds’ Colorado River water use forecast was too good to be true

It sounded too good to be true — an official forecast that 2016 [Colorado River] water use in Arizona, California and Nevada will be the lowest since 1992. That forecast from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was too good to be true — by the bureau’s own admission.

Aquapedia background

Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu is a reservoir on the Colorado River that supplies water to the Colorado River Aqueduct and Central Arizona Project. It is located at the California/Arizona border, approximately 150 miles southeast of Las Vegas, Nevada and 30 miles southeast of Needles, California.

Aquapedia background

Lake Mathews

Situated in southwest Riverside County near the Santa Ana Mountains – about 60 miles southeast of Los Angeles – Lake Mathews is a major reservoir in Southern California.

Tour Dan Scott

Lower Colorado River Tour 2017
Field Trip (past)

This tour explored the Lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from a myriad of sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.

Eventbrite - Lower Colorado River Tour

The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs is the focus of this tour.

2017 Executive Briefing
Sen. Robert Hertzberg to give keynote lunch address; experts to address Oroville spillway, dam safety and flood management

With a theme focusing on “Wave of Change: Breaking the Status Quo,” the Water Education Foundation’s 34th annual Executive Briefing will be held March 23 in Sacramento. The event will examine new approaches to water management, tools to extend supplies, plans to prepare for drought, and the intersection between politics and policy.

Register below!

This premiere water conference will offer you the opportunity to hear from top policymakers and leading stakeholders on key water topics:

Hilton Sacramento Arden West
2200 Harvard Street
Sacramento, CA
Aquapedia background

All-American Canal

As one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, the Imperial Valley receives its water from the Colorado River via the All-American Canal. Rainfall is scarce in the desert region at less than three inches per year and groundwater is of little value. 

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Conservation prevents Colorado River shortage declaration

A resolute effort in Arizona, California, and Nevada to reduce Colorado River water use is slowing the decline of Lake Mead and delaying mandatory restrictions on water withdrawals from the drying basin. … The August analysis of the basin’s hydrology, an assessment carried out every month by the Bureau of Reclamation, concluded that the water level in Lake Mead will be above 1,075 feet in elevation next January.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Crisis averted at Lake Mead: Colorado River water users avoid restrictions

Three years of conservation efforts around the Southwest have prevented a water shortage in Lake Mead for at least another year. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced projections for the Colorado River reservoir’s Jan. 1 water level, and it rises above the elevation at which downstream users must restrict their water diversions.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Close call: Feds see 2018 shortage in Lake Mead water supply

Amid punishing drought, federal water managers projected Tuesday that — by a very narrow margin — the crucial Lake Mead reservoir on the Colorado River won’t have enough water to make full deliveries to Nevada and Arizona in 2018.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Lake Mead still shrinking, but lower consumption offers glimmer of hope

A late-season surge of rain and snow melt made a bad year better for the Colorado River, but it wasn’t enough to lift Lake Mead out of record-low territory.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Colorado River’s tale of two basins

Recently, Gov. John Hickenlooper cast renewed attention on water supply and growth in the West with a decision in a long-running process to expand a Colorado River diversion. … The Gross reservoir expansion reflects a fundamental tension for the seven states and two countries that share the Colorado River: how many more diversions can the stressed basin tolerate?

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Regulators ordered Californians to cut water use 25%. In the desert, golf courses cut back 8%

During the past year of drought, while many Californians have heeded the call to conserve and managed to achieve water-savings of nearly 25 percent statewide, one group of water users hasn’t measured up: the golf courses that spread out across thousands of acres in the desert.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Agency’s decision could expand farmland in the desert

Water from the Colorado River could transform several thousand acres of desert into farmland under a change in policy adopted by the Coachella Valley’s largest water district.

Aquafornia news Public Radio International

Is it time to think about removing dams on the Colorado River? (with audio)

Abrahm Lustgarten, a reporter for ProPublica, has written a new story about one of the largest dams in the US, Glen Canyon, and a recent push to open up its gates. It’s a remarkable development, he says, given how important the Colorado River dams — Glen Canyon, with its reservoir, Lake Powell, and Hoover with Lake Meade — have been for the development of the West.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Facing historically low levels, Lake Mead officials are fending off a water war. Here’s how

This may be what the start of a water war looks like. Drought is draining the West’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, to historic low levels.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

Why San Diego isn’t at the table for doomsday Colorado River water talks

When a group of water officials from California, Nevada and Arizona get together behind closed doors to talk about potential cuts to California’s share of the precious and dwindling Colorado River, representatives from San Diego County Water Authority are not present.

Aquafornia news Voice of San Diego

With doomsday in mind, California officials are ceding water to Arizona, Nevada

Twenty-six million people in California, Nevada and Arizona rely on the Colorado River, but this magnificent source of water that carved a continent is drying up. … The thermometer of the river’s health is Lake Mead — the lake formed behind Hoover Dam.

Aquafornia news Water Deeply

What Lake Mead’s record low means for California

When the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced last month that the country’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, had fallen to its lowest-ever level at 1,074ft (327m), the question many asked was: How will it affect one of California’s primary drinking sources? … Falling water levels are the result of a drought in the Colorado River Basin that has dragged on for 16 years and counting.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Colorado River Aqueduct marks 75 years of water delivery

This week marks the 75th anniversary of the first water delivery of Colorado River water to the Los Angeles area — Pasadena received the first flow — and as a bonus, the 13 cities that originally formed the district received free water for two months.

Aquafornia news Vox

Watch Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the US, shrink dramatically over 15 years

Earlier this week, I [Brad Plumer] wrote about how Lake Mead, America’s largest man-made reservoir, has shrunk to its lowest level ever. … Now NASA’s Earth Observatory has posted two satellite images that show the dramatic decline of Lake Mead between 2000 and 2015.

Aquafornia news ProPublica

As one of its chief sources of water dries up, California eases restrictions on use nonetheless

Earlier this month, California lifted its sweeping restrictions on how its towns and cities use their water, signaling that even though much of the state continues to face extraordinary drought, a moderately wet winter has blunted officials’ sense of urgency over water shortages. Seemingly overlooked, however, is the state’s enormous reliance on the Colorado River for its urban water supplies — and the fact that the Colorado is approaching its worst point of crisis in a generation.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Water crisis not on presidential candidates’ radar

The 20th century dams and canals that gave birth to modern California — to San Francisco, to Los Angeles, to the San Joaquin Valley farms that feed the nation — are near the end of their engineered lives. … So far, the three major presidential candidates have hardly noticed these problems as they barnstorm the state heading into the June 7 primary.

Aquafornia news NPR

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: With drought the new normal in the West, states scramble to prepare (with audio)

As the Colorado River dries out, the seven states that rely on this body of water risk water scarcity.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Lake Mead shrinks to record low amid ongoing Western drought

The surface level at Lake Mead has dropped as planned to historic low levels, and federal water managers said Thursday the vast Colorado River reservoir is expected to continue to shrink amid ongoing drought.

Aquafornia news The Santa Fe New Mexican

Study finds Colorado River groundwater lacks protection

Groundwater delivers more than half the water flowing in the Upper Colorado River Basin and needs to be protected from overuse, a newly published U.S. Geological Survey study says.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Salton Sea a concern for Imperial Irrigation District in Colorado River talks

Because the Imperial Irrigation District holds the single largest entitlement to water from the [Colorado] river, its participation would be vital in any agreement for California to share in water cutbacks to avert a looming shortage in Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir. But major hurdles remain for the district to support a potential deal, and the reasons begin with the shrinking Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Sally Jewell sees progress in Colorado River talks (with video)

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the United States and Mexico are making important progress in talks on a new accord to share water from the Colorado River, which is badly overtapped and approaching critical shortage levels.

Aquafornia news St. George Daily Spectrum

Lake Powell Pipeline proposal goes to federal review

Just as some of the drought-starved states downstream are cutting back, officials in Utah say they plan to file on Monday an official proposal to dip into their rights to the Colorado River via the Lake Powell Pipeline.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

California weighs sharing ‘pain’ of Colorado River cuts

With the Colorado River tapped beyond its limits and the level of Lake Mead in decline, representatives of California, Arizona and Nevada say they’ve been making progress in negotiating an agreement for all three states to share in water cutbacks in order to stave off a more severe shortage.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Dry soil to absorb some snowmelt heading to Colorado River

Storms brought deep snow to the mountains that feed the vital Colorado River this winter and spring, but the dried-out landscape will soak up some of the runoff before it can reach the river and the 40 million people depending on it for water.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Big Central Arizona Project cuts coming as 3-state water agreement nears

Arizona, California and Nevada negotiators are moving toward a major agreement triggering cuts in Colorado River water deliveries to Southern and Central Arizona to avert much more severe cuts in the future. As state water officials now envision the agreement, it would also ultimately require California to cut its use of river water.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Tribe’s leader: Climate change threatens water supplies

As chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Jeff Grubbe looks at the supply of water from the Colorado River and sees an uncertain future, in part due to climate change.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Arizona wants legal assurances California won’t take its stored water

Arizona and California are arguing over Colorado River water again — this time over whether it should be inscribed in law that California can’t take Arizona’s share of river water that’s left in Lake Mead to prop up lake levels.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Water experts: Drought, climate change require new ways of living in Colorado River basin

The Southwest needs a new vision and technologies to shore up its diminishing water supplies instead of relying on old “security blankets” like a drought-busting winter that refills America’s two biggest reservoirs, water experts and users argued Monday. That’s what’s been happening with water use in the Colorado River basin.

Aquafornia news Steamboat Pilot & Today, Colorado

Sustainable grazing to stretch water supplies

Beginning in 2015, the Nature Conservancy committed four hay fields comprising 197 acres at the Carpenter Ranch to a multi-state pilot project conceived to determine how irrigated hay fields in the region would respond to being temporarily left fallow in order to leave more water flowing in the Yampa River. The stronger summer flows would support habitat and help to replenish the vast reservoirs of the Southwest that supply water to cities in Arizona, Nevada and Southern California. 

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Worries rising as Colorado River water runs low

For the past five years, as the drought drained California’s water sources and depleted its reservoirs, Southern California water managers have relied increasingly on the region’s largest out-of-state water source: the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

El Niño hasn’t helped Colorado River Basin much

El Niño has been a washout so far for the Colorado River Basin, which has led to a lower than normal forecast for the all-important spring-summer runoff into Lake Powell.

Aquafornia news The Orange County Register

Orange County faces more competition for drought-strangled Colorado River

For the past five years, as drought sucked dry California’s water sources and depleted its reservoirs, Southern California water managers have turned increasingly to the region’s large out-of-state water source: the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Environmental Protection of Colorado River called disjointed

Environmental protection for the Colorado River — the lifeblood of the Southwest — is disjointed and too often gets a low priority in the management of the waterway, independent researchers said in a new report.

Aquafornia news The St. George, Utah, Spectrum

Lake Powell Pipeline: the push for an alternative

In front of a small audience gathered last week at the Sunbrook event center in St. George, Tom Butine shared again the presentation he’s been making to groups throughout Washington County about the Lake Powell Pipeline. … Simultaneously the fastest-growing state in the nation and the second-driest, Utah is in line to face statewide challenges when it comes to supplying the long-term demand.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: Agua Caliente tribe to keep up water fight, leader says

Nearly three years after the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians sued the Coachella Valley’s largest water districts, the two sides remain just as far apart in a case that could force changes in how water is managed locally and set a precedent for similar disputes nationwide.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Man vs. rapids: Kayaker sets record Grand Canyon river trip

The unofficial records kept among river rafters started with Maj. John Wesley Powell, who rowed the [Colorado] river in 29 days in 1869.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Mountain snows that feed Colorado River look good so far

Snowpack in the mountains that feeds the Colorado River is slightly above the long-term average this winter — welcome news in the drought-stricken Southwest.

Western Water Magazine

Historic Drought and the Colorado River: Today and Tomorrow
November/December 2015

This issue looks at the historic drought that has gripped the Colorado River Basin since 2000 and discusses the lessons learned, the continuing challenges and what the future might hold.

Western Water Excerpt Sue McClurg Jennifer Bowles

Historic Drought and the Colorado River: Today and Tomorrow
November/December 2015

The dramatic decline in water levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell is perhaps the most visible sign of the historic drought that has gripped the Colorado River Basin for the past 16 years. In 2000, the reservoirs stood at nearly 100 percent capacity; today, Lake Powell is at 49 percent capacity while Lake Mead has dropped to 38 percent. Before the late season runoff of Miracle May, it looked as if Mead might drop low enough to trigger the first-ever Lower Basin shortage determination in 2016.

Read the excerpt below from the Sept./Oct. 2015 issue along with the editor’s note. Click here to subscribe to Western Water and get full access.

Aquafornia news The Sacramento Bee

Commentary: Neighbors perhaps, friends no

There’s always been an incongruity about California’s having three disparate states on its borders.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Nature controls Colorado River Basin outlook

The Colorado River Basin’s water supply is mainly affected by wet and dry weather cycles, not changes in human use, according to a study led by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Feds: Fix Colorado River problems or we will

For the second time in a decade, the feds are warning that if water interests in Arizona, California and Nevada can’t find a fix for the Colorado River’s problems, the interior secretary will find it for them.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Feds unveil interactive tool showing Colorado River drought

Federal agencies have unveiled an interactive Web display showing high-water to low-water data and images resulting from a historic 16-year drought in the Colorado River basin.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Q&A: A look at the Colorado River and its role in the West

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the nation’s largest drinking water distributor, bought nearly 13,000 acres of remote farms in July for $256 million, rattling farmers but giving it prized rights to the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Water agency’s land purchase rattles California farmers

The nation’s largest distributor of treated drinking water became the largest landowner in a remote California farming region for good reason: The alfalfa-growing area is first in line to get Colorado River water.

Tour Dan Scott

Lower Colorado River Tour 2016
Field Trip (past)

This 3-day, 2-night tour traveled along the Lower Colorado River from Hoover Dam to the Salton Sea and the Coachella Valley. Along the way, experts discussed challenges related to what is the most contested, beloved for recreation and meticulously managed rivers in the nation.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: EPA mine spill was preventable, points to broader problem

The Colorado spill would have been avoided had the EPA team checked on water levels inside the inactive Gold King Mine before digging into its collapsed and leaking entrance, a team of engineers from Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation concluded in a 132-page report released Thursday.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

El Niño rains forecast to reach far into Northern California, where they’re most needed

On Thursday, a new federal forecast said El Niño is continuing to strengthen, with experts saying it’s on track to produce potentially record rainfall. … The forecast for a wet winter now covers the mountains that feed California’s most important reservoirs, Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Scholars urge more research on future of Colorado River

A coalition of scholars across the West is urging the federal government to partner with the National Academy of Sciences to study the future of the Colorado River, including if climate change is leading to reduced stream flow.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tuesday’s Top of the Scroll: BLM decision set backs Cadiz plan to sell Mojave groundwater

In a long-awaited decision, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management says Cadiz cannot use an existing railroad right-of-way for a new water pipeline that would carry supplies from the project’s proposed well field to the Colorado River Aqueduct.

Aquafornia news KSL Broadcasting Salt Lake City, Utah

Pilot program to offer cash to frugal Colorado River water users

Protracted drought over the last four years and nagging uncertainty over how Lake Powell will fare in 2016 are prompting a cash-for-conservation program to test how much water can be saved in the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news The Arizona Republic

Once a fishing paradise, Salton Sea withers in California drought

Long gone are the luxury boats that drew stars inland from Hollywood to this accidental sea that first filled with Colorado River water after a massive 1905 canal breach. … The Southwest’s worsening water shortage will make saving the Salton Sea difficult, because any fix requires water from an over-stressed Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

‘Third Straw’ uncapped to provide Lake Mead water to Vegas

The intake was unplugged Wednesday to finish flooding an $817 million tunnel and complete a complicated and perilous “Third Straw” project to draw drinking water for Las Vegas from a shrinking Lake Mead.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

EPA says it will build temporary treatment plant for mine

The Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday it will set up a temporary treatment plant for wastewater flowing from the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado after 3 million gallons surged out of the mine in August, tainting rivers in three states.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Las Vegas, Los Angeles-area agencies ink water-for-cash deal

Water managers in Los Angeles and Las Vegas are poised to adopt a drought-driven deal to send enough water to serve about 300,000 homes annually from the Lake Mead reservoir to Southern California.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

How a 1930s water war between California and Arizona delayed Parker Dam

In 1934, the Metropolitan Water District began construction on Parker Dam, which was opposed by Arizona. The resulting Lake Havasu would feed the new Colorado Aqueduct.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

New documents raise more questions about Colorado Mine spill

Documents released by U.S. officials have revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency knew of the potential for a blowout of toxic wastewater from a Colorado mine more than a year before a government cleanup team accidentally triggered such a release earlier this month.

Aquafornia news Riverside Press-Enterprise

Drought: Colorado River saves Inland farmers

The drought is expected to cost the state $2.7 billion in agriculture losses this year, but farmers in eastern Riverside County are faring well because of steady supplies from the Colorado River, according to the authors of a new economic forecast.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Officials: Less chance of Colorado River water cuts in 2017

Wet weather in May and June brought good news Monday from federal water managers keeping close tabs on the Colorado River water supply for about 40 million residents in seven Southwest U.S. states. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

National challenge of leaking mines dwarfs Colorado spill

It will take many years and many millions of dollars simply to manage and not even remove the toxic wastewater from an abandoned mine that unleashed a 100-mile-long torrent of heavy metals into Western rivers and has likely reached Lake Powell, experts said.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Colorado river spill underscores threat of old hard-rock mines

[EPA Regional Administrator Shaun] McGrath said at a public meeting Sunday that officials had tripled the estimate of the toxic spill based on data from a U.S. Geological Survey water gauge downstream.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Colorado River conservation program could get financial boost

Water officials insist a pilot program designed to save Colorado River water and boost Lake Mead and Lake Powell is off to such a promising start that they are already looking to pour more money into it.

Aquafornia news St. George, Utah, Spectrum

Finding a lifeline: Lake Powell Pipeline

The St. George metro area measured as the fifth-fastest growing in the nation according to the latest U.S. Census estimates … Enter the Lake Powell Pipeline, a 140-mile conduit to the much larger Colorado River and at the moment perhaps the most hotly contested project planned along the river’s entire 1,450 miles.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Metropolitan Water District buying farmland near Blythe

The state’s largest water supplier plans to buy 12,000 acres of farmland near Blythe in an effort to secure Colorado River water for Southern California cities.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Shrinking Colorado River is a growing concern for Yuma farmers — and millions of water users

Nearly 40 million people in seven states depend on the [Colorado] river, a population some forecasts say could nearly double in the next 50 years. … In the decades to come, federal officials say, significant shortages are likely to force water-supply cutbacks in parts of the basin, the first in the more than 90 years that the river has been managed under the 1922 Colorado River Compact.

Aquafornia news ProPublica

How much water does the West really have? (with video)

Seventy five years ago, American scientists discovered a secret about how the planet’s water works.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

­Commentary: How the West overcounts its water supplies

Paul Matuska is the closest thing the American West has to a water cop, and his beat includes Needles, Calif., a beleaguered desert town midway between Flagstaff, Ariz., and Los Angeles. … Mr. Matuska, a hydrologist, is one of about a dozen accountants for the federal Bureau of Reclamation, which controls water distribution along the lower half of the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Water managers dodge bullet with ‘May miracle’ rains

At a time when water levels in Lake Mead were getting so low that officials prepared for drastic cutbacks, it started raining. A series of powerful storms pummeled the mountains that feed the Colorado River, a key source of water for California, Arizona and Nevada.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

San Diego water district wins ruling in MWD pricing dispute

San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow found that the MWD had charged San Diego too much for the use of its aqueduct to bring water from the Colorado River under San Diego’s deal to buy water from the Imperial Irrigation District.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

Mexican canal lining brings cross-border dividends

Three U.S. water agencies have joined forces with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, paying $18 million toward the lining of a 10-mile stretch of the canal. In exchange, they will be receiving 124,000 acre-feet of water being stored by Mexico at Lake Mead.

Aquafornia news ProPublica

Picturing the Drought – Killing the Colorado

“Killing the Colorado,” a joint reporting project by ProPublica and Matter, set out to tell the truth about the American West’s water crisis. … Four photographers — Christaan Felber, Bryan Schutmaat, Jake Stangel and Michael Friberg — were enlisted by photo editors Luise Stauss and Ayanna Quint to document man’s mistakes and their consequences.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Baja California farmers confront prospect of water shortage

Blocks from the U.S. border on a recent afternoon, inside a packed auditorium, the farmers’ voices rose with their anxious questions.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Las Vegas completing last straw to draw Lake Mead water

It took $817 million, two starts, more than six years and one worker’s life to drill a so-called “Third Straw” to make sure glittery casinos and sprawling suburbs of Las Vegas can keep getting drinking water from near the bottom of drought-stricken Lake Mead.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: In drying Colorado River Basin, Indian tribes are water dealmakers

Mired in drought and torched by one of the hottest years ever measured, the seven states of the Colorado River Basin are acutely aware of how a desert can bully water supplies. They are not alone.

Aquafornia news Sea Change Radio

Abrahm Lustgarten: Water management breakdown (audio)

The importance of water conservation during this record dry spell notwithstanding, sound water management turns out to be about a lot more than just water use. Today on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks with Abrahm Lustgarten of ProPublica, who is writing a multi-part series exposing unfortunate policies and practices vis-à-vis our most precious, life-sustaining resource.

Aquafornia news The San Diego Union-Tribune

‘Miracle May’ boosts Colorado River basin

Thanks to unexpected rains in what went down in history as “Miracle March,” California’s drought eased in 1991. This year, the same thing has happened on a larger scale along the Colorado River basin.

Aquafornia news ProPublica

Killing the Colorado series: Inside the power plant fueling America’s drought — Navajo Generating Station

A couple of miles outside the town of Page, three 775-foot-tall caramel-colored smokestacks tower like sentries on the edge of northern Arizona’s sprawling red sandstone wilderness. At their base, the Navajo Generating Station, the West’s largest power-generating facility, thrums ceaselessly, like a beating heart.

Western Water Magazine

Countdown at the Salton Sea
May/June 2015

This issue looks at the dilemma of the shrinking Salton Sea. The shallow, briny inland lake at the southeastern edge of California is slowly evaporating and becoming more saline – threatening the habitat for fish and birds and worsening air quality as dust from the dry lakebed is whipped by the constant winds.

Western Water Excerpt

Countdown at the Salton Sea
May/June 2015

The clock is ticking for the Salton Sea.

The shallow, briny inland lake at the southeastern edge of California is slowly evaporating and becoming more saline – threatening the habitat for fish and birds and worsening air quality as dust from the dry lakebed is whipped by the constant winds.

(Read this excerpt from the May/June 2015 issue along with the editor’s note. Click here to subscribe to Western Water and get full access.)

Introduction

The clock is ticking for the Salton Sea.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Colorado River Basin conservation agreements take shape

With water levels in Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir and a bellwether for water supplies in the Southwest, setting a new record low every day, the seven states of the Colorado River Basin are finalizing a pair of novel water conservation agreements that will keep more water in the shrinking lake.

Aquafornia news ProPublica

Killing the Colorado Series: How century-old water laws are promoting waste amid drought

A vestige of 139-year-old water law pushes ranchers to use as much water as they possibly can, even during a drought. “Use it or lose it” clauses, as they are known, are common in state laws throughout the Colorado River basin and give the farmers, ranchers and governments holding water rights a powerful incentive to use more water than they need.

Aquafornia news ProPublica

Killing the Colorado: How Arizona cotton is fueling the West’s water crisis

State Route 87, the thin band of pavement that approaches the mostly shuttered town of Coolidge, Ariz., cuts through some of the least hospitable land in the country. … Then Route 87 tacks left and the dead landscape springs to life.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Colorado’s rain isn’t helping Southwest reservoirs

The U.S. Drought Monitor said Thursday a series of recent storms have dropped up to four times the normal weekly rainfall in some areas of the West. However, three-quarters of the region remains in a long-term drought.

Aquafornia news U-T San Diego

Colorado River water shortage in 2016 more likely

California’s drought emergency woes have worsened, with a shortage on the Colorado River next year becoming increasingly likely. Odds of a shortage rose from 33 percent to 50 percent from April 1 to May 1, Metropolitan Water District, Southern California’s largest water wholesaler, said Monday.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

What Nevada has done to conserve water may serve as example for California

With more than 38 million people, a multibillion-dollar agricultural industry and a complex water system that relies on multiple sources, including the Colorado River, California’s problems are of a different magnitude than those Southern Nevada faced. But the steps taken here offer a road map to making the most out of every drop of water.

Aquafornia news The Brookings Institution

Blog: Combating climate change and water scarcity in the U.S. (with video)

Pat Mulroy, a senior fellow with the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings and a senior fellow for climate adaptation and environmental policy at UNLV’s Brookings Mountain West, discusses the water scarcity issues that have developed over the last few decades and the realistic future of water in the U.S. … During her tenure at SNWA [Southern Nevada Water Authority], the region faced a huge crisis when one of the worst droughts in the history of the Colorado River hit the region.

Aquafornia news NPR

As Lake Mead levels drop, the West braces for bigger drought impact (with audio)

The historic four-year drought in California has been grabbing the headlines lately, but there’s a much bigger problem facing the West: the now 14-year drought gripping the Colorado River basin.

Aquafornia news The Denver Post

Commentary: Heed California water woes, Colorado

Compared to California, things are better in the Colorado River Basin. However, after 15 years of drought, Lake Powell and Lake Mead are both below 45 percent full with basinwide snowpack below 70 percent as of April 1.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Rocky Mountain snow offers scant encouragement to California

Drought-weary Californians can’t expect much encouragement from mountains elsewhere in the West: Snow that fills the Colorado River is lagging, too, officials said Friday.

Aquafornia news Bloomberg News

Water grab pits Las Vegas against Mormons

Las Vegas is seeking to quench its growing thirst by draining billions of gallons of water from under the feet of ranchers whose cattle help feed the Mormon church’s poor. A legal battle across 275 miles of treeless ridges and baked salt flats comes as the western U.S. faces unprecedented droughts linked to climate change.

Aquafornia news The Arizona Republic

Growing Utah town wants even more water via pipeline

St. George anchors Washington County, which has echoed Las Vegas’ growth boom since before the turn of the 21st century. … Meanwhile, Utah is using less than 1 million acre-feet a year from the Colorado River, according to the state.

Aquafornia news High Country News

The water czar who reshaped Colorado River politics

For more than a year, the Southwest’s top water bosses had been shuttling between airport hotels all over the region.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Tribes legally evicted Colorado River reservation tenant, judge rules

A federal judge has ruled that the Colorado River Indian Tribes had legal authority to evict a tenant from a housing development on the California side of the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Thursday’s Top of the Scroll: Colorado mountain snow is bright spot during drought in West

Snowpack in the mountain valleys where the Colorado River originates was only a little below normal on Wednesday, marking one of the few bright spots in an increasingly grim drought gripping much of the West.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Climate change will increase evaporation of Colorado River

The Colorado River faces a dual threat from climate change as rising temperatures increase the demand for irrigation water and accelerate evaporation at the river’s two largest reservoirs. So says a new report from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation …

Aquafornia news CBS Los Angeles

More water rationing? California agency to decide next move in drought fight

Persistent drought conditions could trigger mandatory water rationing measures throughout Southern California for the second time in six years, officials said Monday.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Holdouts, tribes clash over border of Colorado River reservation

Leaning against a dilapidated gazebo overlooking a lazy bend in the Colorado River, Roger French recalled better times in the nest of mobile homes known as Ranchos Not So Grande.

Western Water Excerpt Gary Pitzer Jennifer Bowles

The Next Steps of the Colorado River Basin Study
November/December 2014

After much time, study and investment, the task of identifying solutions to ensure the long-term sus­tainability of the Colorado River is underway. People from the Upper and Lower basins representing all interest groups are preparing to put their signatures to documents aimed at ensuring the river’s vitality for the next 50 years and beyond.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Colorado River Delta plants making comeback

A spring release of water has reversed a 13-year trend of decline in plant and wildlife in the Colorado River Delta, according to findings released by scientists this month.

Aquafornia news The Christian Science Monitor

How one experiment revived Colorado River’s parched delta (with video)

For 56 days last spring, a unique pulse of water drawn from Hoover Dam’s Lake Mead coursed into Mexico to the Colorado River’s parched delta – once an ecological emerald set in the tawny expanse of the Sonoran Desert.

Aquafornia news UT San Diego

Pulse flow deliveries of water to Colorado River Delta benefit parched wetlands

A binational effort aimed at reviving parched wetlands in the Colorado River Delta in Mexico through special deliveries of water has met with initial success, according to a report released Wednesday. … The water deliveries aimed at restoring some of the delta’s last remaining wetlands were outlined under a wide-ranging five-year binational agreement reached in 2012 and known as Minute 319.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

With future uncertain, Colorado shields its water

With demand increasing across the West, Colorado is drawing up a strategy to keep some of the trillions of gallons of water that gushes out of the Rocky Mountains every spring – most of which flows downstream to drought-stricken California, Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. … [James] Eklund’s insistence on Colorado’s water rights drew diplomatic responses from his colleagues in other states on the eve of a Las Vegas meeting of water managers.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Monday’s Top of the Scroll: Water woes among topics for 8 governors in Vegas

Facing dwindling water supplies, Western states are struggling to capture every drop with dam and diversion projects that some think could erode regional cooperation crucial to managing the scarce resource. Against that backdrop, eight Western governors meeting in Las Vegas this weekend will address regional water issues, and water managers from seven states arrive next week to work on ways to ensure 40 million people in the parched Colorado River basin don’t go thirsty.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Blog: Colorado River research group delivers message of water limits

I have been reporting on Western water issues – specifically the Colorado River Basin – since 2009. … Typically the debate is one of bridging the gap between expected demand and a shortfall in supply.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

Commentary: In 53 days, rafting experts retrace Powell’s 1869 expedition

[Richard] McFarland-Dorworth, a longtime California resident and rafting guide who now lives in Bali, Indonesia, was one of seven expert rafters on a 950-mile mission to replicate most of John Wesley Powell’s 1869 expedition down the Green and Colorado rivers from Flaming Gorge through Utah and Arizona to Lake Mead — sans most of the roiling waters of the pre-dam era.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

Where 2 rivers meet, visions for Grand Canyon clash

A group of Italian developers is planning three million square feet of retail construction, plus 2,200 homes, in Tusayan, a newly incorporated village with a population of just 587 at the entrance to the park [Grand Canyon], posing what park officials describe as a major threat to the water supply for the Colorado River.

Aquafornia news National Geographic

Record drought reveals stunning changes along Colorado River

My partner DeEdda McLean and I had come to this area west of Mexican Hat, Utah, to kayak across Lake Powell, a reservoir formed by the confluence of the San Juan and the Colorado Rivers and the holding power of Glen Canyon Dam, which lies just over the border in Arizona. Yet in place of a majestic reservoir, we saw only the thin ribbon of a reemergent river channel, which had been inundated for most of the past three decades by the lake. 

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Q&A: Feds flood Colorado River through Grand Canyon

Federal officials opened the floodgates at Glen Canyon Dam on Monday, sending water rushing through the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News Release: Experimental high-flow release from Glen Canyon Dam

The Department of the Interior initiated its third high-flow release from Glen Canyon Dam today [Nov. 10] under an innovative science-based experimental protocol. The goal of the releases is to help restore the environment by creating flood-like conditions below Glen Canyon Dam, which rebuild sandbars that are important habitat and recreational resources.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Feds flood Colorado River through Grand Canyon

Federal officials opened the floodgates at Glen Canyon Dam on Monday, sending water rushing through the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.

Aquafornia news The Arizona Republic

Editorial: Drought making Calif. more like Arizona

For many years, California has stared at the prospect of long-running drought and effectively sniffed with contempt.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News Release: Finding durable foul-release coatings to control invasive mussel attachment highlighted in study

The Bureau of Reclamation has released a report summarizing six years of testing coatings to control the attachment of quagga and zebra mussels to water and power facilities. … The testing was conducted at Parker Dam on the Colorado River. 

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Tribe, agencies lay out arguments in water lawsuit

Two water districts, the federal government, and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians are laying out their arguments in a lawsuit over water, focusing on the question of whether the tribe has rights to groundwater.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday’s Top of the Scroll: Colorado River water-conservation effort to begin

Providers of municipal water in Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado are starting a conservation program for the Colorado River system.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Lake Mead rings in 50 years as recreation area

On Oct. 8, 1964, the day Congress voted to designate the country’s largest man-made reservoir as its first National Recreation Area, visitors also were struck by the sight of a giant white bathtub ring marking where water used to be. That ring was a little smaller in 1964, but not by much.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News Release: U.S. Department of the Interior and Western municipal water suppliers developing water conservation projects as part of a landmark collaborative agreement

Faced with the increasing probability of shortage on the Colorado River, municipal water providers in Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado, and the Bureau of Reclamation are implementing a landmark Colorado River System Conservation program. … At a later date, water users in the Upper Basin will be invited to participate in this unique agreement.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Water for Coachella Valley farms untouched by drought

One of the most extreme droughts in California’s history has been hitting agriculture hard, forcing cutbacks in water deliveries in parts of the Central Valley and leaving more than 400,000 acres of farmland fallow and dry.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Glen Canyon Dam marks 50 years as power source

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and other officials on Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of power generation by Glen Canyon Dam, a structure that helped usher in a new era in the Southwest.

Aquafornia news Bureau of Reclamation

News Release: Reclamation to host live Internet broadcast of Glen Canyon’s 50th anniversary celebration

The Bureau of Reclamation will host a live Internet broadcast of the 50th Anniversary celebration of power production at Glen Canyon Dam on Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014.

Publication

New Director’s Packet

Newly elected to your local water board? Or city council? Or state Legislature? This packet of materials provides you with the valuable background information you need – and at a special price!

River Reports

Cutting Colorado River Use: The California Plan
November/December 1998

This issue updates progress on crafting and implementing California’s 4.4 plan to reduce its use of Colorado River water by 800,000 acre-feet. The state has used as much as 5.2 million acre-feet of Colorado River water annually, but under pressure from Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and the other six states that share this resource, California’s Colorado River parties have been trying to close the gap between demand and supply. The article – delayed to include the latest information from Babbitt’s Dec.

River Reports

The California Plan and the Salton Sea
November/December 2001

This issue updates progress on California’s Colorado River Water Use Plan (commonly called the 4.4 Plan ), with a special focus on the Salton Sea restoration/water transfer dilemma. It also includes information on the proposed MWD-Palo Verde Irrigation District deal, the Colorado River Delta, and the legislative debate in the national and state capitals.

River Reports

Can California Make the 4.4 Plan Work?
March/April 2003

With passage of the original Dec. 31, 2002, deadline to have a Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA) in place for the Colorado River, California suffered a cutback in the surplus Colorado River flows it had relied upon by years. Further negotiations followed in an attempt to bring the California parties to an agreement. This issue examines the history leading to the QSA, the state of affairs of the so-called 4.4 Plan as of early March, and gives readers a clearer crystal ball with which to speculate about California’s water future on the Colorado River.

River Reports

The Ties that Bind: The Evolving Policy of the Colorado River
March/April 2004

This issue of Western Water provides the latest information on some of the philosophical, political and practical ideas being discussed on the river. Some of these issues were discussed at the Water Education Foundation’s Colorado River Symposium, “The Ties that Bind: Policy and the Evolving Law of the Colorado River,” held last fall at The Bishop’s Lodge in Santa Fe, New Mexico – site of negotiations on the 1922 Colorado River Compact.

River Reports

Facing the Future: Modifying Management of the Colorado River
January/February 2006

This issue of Western Water explores the issues surrounding and the components of the Colorado River Basin seven-state proposed agreement released Feb. 3 regarding sharing shortages on the river, and new plans to improve the river’s management. The article includes excerpts from the Foundation’s September 2005 Colorado River Symposium held in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

River Reports

1922-2007: 85 Years of the Colorado River Compact
November/December 2007

This issue of Western Water marks the 85th anniversary of the Colorado River Compact and considers its role in the past and present on key issues such as federal funding for water projects and international issues. Much of the content for this magazine came from the Foundation’s September Colorado River Symposium, The Colorado River Compact at 85 and Changes on the River.

Product

Colorado River Facts Slide Card

This card includes information about the Colorado River, who uses the river, how the river’s water is divided and other pertinent facts about this vital resource for the Southwest. Beautifully illustrated with color photographs.

Product

River Report Newsletter Subscription

To promote a broader understanding of the current issues involving the Colorado River, the Foundation, has developed River Report, a 12-page newsletter devoted entirely to topics surrounding this vital waterway. Each newsletter includes an in-depth news story on a timely subject essential to the Colorado River.

Product

Colorado River Compact 75th Anniversary Symposium Proceedings

In 1997, the Foundation sponsored a three-day, invitation-only symposium at Bishop’s Lodge, New Mexico, site of the 1922 Colorado River Compact signing, to discuss the historical implications of that agreement, current Colorado River issues and future challenges. The 204-page proceedings features the panel discussions and presentations on such issues as the Law of the River, water marketing and environmental restoration.

Video

Shaping of the West: 100 Years of Reclamation

30-minute DVD that traces the history of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and its role in the development of the West. Includes extensive historic footage of farming and the construction of dams and other water projects, and discusses historic and modern day issues.

Maps & Posters

Nevada Water Map
Published 2004

This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, illustrates the water resources available for Nevada cities, agriculture and the environment. It features natural and manmade water resources throughout the state, including the Truckee and Carson rivers, Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake and the course of the Colorado River that forms the state’s eastern boundary.

Maps & Posters

Colorado River Water Map
Reprinted in 2002

Reprinted in 2002 to include the Colorado River Delta region south of the border, the 32×38 inch Colorado River Water Map depicts the seven Western states that share the Colorado River. The Colorado River supplies water to nearly 25 million people and in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the Republic of Mexico. Text on this beautiful map, suitable for framing, explains the river’s apportionment and history.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law
Updated 2013

The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law, recognized as the most thorough explanation of California water rights law available to non-lawyers, traces the authority for water flowing in a stream or reservoir, from a faucet or into an irrigation ditch through the complex web of California water rights.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to Water Marketing
Updated 2005

The 20-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Marketing provides background information on water rights, types of transfers and critical policy issues surrounding this topic. First published in 1996, the 2000 version offers expanded information on groundwater banking and conjunctive use …  Colorado River transfers, CALFED’s Water Transfer Program and the role of private companies in California’s developing water market. 

Order in bulk (10 or more copies of the same guide) for a reduced fee. Contact the Foundation, 916-444-6240, for details.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River
Updated 2013

The Colorado River provides water to more than 35 million people and 4 million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000 square miles in the southwestern United States. The 32-page Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River covers the history of the river’s development; negotiations over division of its water; the items that comprise the Law of the River; and a chronology of significant Colorado River events.

Publication

Layperson’s Guide to California Water
Updated 2015

The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an excellent overview of the history of water development and use in California. It includes sections on flood management; the state, federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for stretching the water supply such as water marketing and conjunctive use.

Maps & Posters

California Water Map
Updated December 2016

A new look for our most popular product! And it’s the perfect gift for the water wonk in your life.

Our 24×36 inch California Water Map is widely known for being the definitive poster that shows the integral role water plays in the state. On this updated version it is easier to see California’s natural waterways and manmade reservoirs and aqueducts - including federally, state and locally funded projects - the wild and scenic rivers system, and natural lakes. The map features beautiful photos of California’s natural environment, rivers, water projects, wildlife, and urban and agricultural uses and the text focuses on key issues: water supply, water use, water projects, the Delta, wild and scenic rivers and the Colorado River.

Quantification Settlement Agreement
Aquapedia background

Quantification Settlement Agreement

The Quantification Settlement Agreement defines the rights to a portion of Colorado River water for four water districts in Southern California. It also provides for a water transfer between the Imperial Valley and San Diego for 35 years–the largest agricultural to urban water transfer in the United States.

Aquapedia background

Mexico and Colorado River Water

The Mexican Water Treaty of 1944 committed the U.S. to deliver 1.5 million acre-feet of water to Mexico on an annual basis, plus an additional 200,000 acre-feet under surplus conditions. The treaty is overseen by the International Boundary and Water Commission.

Colorado River water is delivered to Mexico at Morelos Dam, located 1.1 miles downstream from where the California-Baja California land boundary intersects the river between the town of Los Algodones in northwestern Mexico and Yuma County, Ariz.

Aquapedia background

Mexican Delta of the Colorado River

The Mexican Delta is located at the natural terminus of the Colorado River at the Gulf of Mexico, just south of the U.S.-Mexico border. The desert ecosystem was formed by silt flushed downstream from the Colorado and fresh and brackish water mixing at the Gulf.

The Mexican Delta once covered 9,650 square miles but has shrunk to less than 1 percent of its original size due to man-made water diversions.

Aquapedia background

Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program

The Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program aims to balance use of Colorado River water resources with the conservation of native species and their habitat. A key component of this process is restoring approximately 1,200 acres of riparian and marsh habitats along the lower Colorado River.

Aquapedia background

Lee Ferry

Lee Ferry on the Arizona-Utah border is a key dividing point between the Colorado River’s Upper and Lower basins.

This split is important when it comes to determining how much water will be delivered from the Upper Basin to the Lower Basin [for a description of the Upper and Lower basins visit the Colorado River page].

Aquapedia background

John Wesley Powell

John Wesley Powell (1834-1902) was historic and heroic for being first to lead an expedition down the Colorado River in 1869. A major who lost an arm in the Civil War Battle of Shiloh, he was an explorer, geologist, geographer and ethnologist.

Colorado River Water Use 4.4 Plan
Aquapedia background

Colorado River Water Use 4.4 Plan

California’s Colorado River Water Use Plan (known colloquially as the 4.4 Plan) intends to wean the state from its reliance on the surplus flows from the river and return California to its annual 4.4 million acre-feet basic apportionment of the river.

In the past, California has also used more than its basic apportionment.  Consequently, the U.S. Department of Interior urged California to devise a plan to reduce its water consumption to its basic entitlement.

Aquapedia background

Colorado River Timeline

600 Ancestral Pueblo and Hohokam Indians develop water distribution systems.

1500 Spanish explorers introduce livestock and ditch systems called acequias.

1847 Mormons arrive in the Salt Lake Valley; begin cultivating farmland.

1859 Oliver Wozencraft promotes idea of irrigating the Imperial Valley.

1865 Lower Colorado River lands begin to be set aside for American Indians.

Aquapedia background

Colorado River Seven States Agreement

In December 2007, the federal government and the seven states of the Colorado River Basin established guidelines for coordinated operation of Lakes Powell and Mead under low-reservoir conditions and for shortage allocations among the Lower Basin states.  An ongoing severe drought and potential for a major shortfall in supplies led to the agreement.

Colorado River
Aquapedia background

Colorado River

The turbulent Colorado River is one of the most heavily regulated rivers in the world.

Serving as the “lifeline of the Southwest,” the Colorado River provides water to 35 million people and more than 4 million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000 square miles.

Western Water Magazine

An Era of New Partnerships on the Colorado River
November / December 2013

This printed issue of Western Water examines how the various stakeholders have begun working together to meet the planning challenges for the Colorado River Basin, including agreements with Mexico, increased use of conservation and water marketing, and the goal of accomplishing binational environmental restoration and water-sharing programs.

Western Water Magazine

A Call to Action? The Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study
November/December 2012

This printed issue of Western Water examines the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study and what its finding might mean for the future of the lifeblood of the Southwest.

Western Water Excerpt Gary PitzerRita Schmidt Sudman

A Call to Action? The Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study
November/December 2012

The Colorado River is one of the most heavily relied upon water supply sources in the world, serving 35 million people in seven states and Mexico. The river provides water to large cities, irrigates fields, powers turbines to generate electricity, thrills recreational enthusiasts and serves as a home for birds, fish and wildlife.

Western Water Magazine

Solving the Colorado River Basin’s Math Problem: Adapting to Change
November/December 2011

This printed issue of Western Water explores the historic nature of some of the key agreements in recent years, future challenges, and what leading state representatives identify as potential “worst-case scenarios.” Much of the content for this issue of Western Water came from the in-depth panel discussions at the Colorado River Symposium. The Foundation will publish the full proceedings of the Symposium in 2012.

Western Water Magazine

The Colorado River Drought: A Sobering Glimpse into the Future
November/December 2010

This printed issue of Western Water examines the Colorado River drought, and the ongoing institutional and operational changes underway to maintain the system and meet the future challenges in the Colorado River Basin.

Commands