Amy Haas, deputy director and general counsel of the Upper Colorado River Commission, will replace the retiring Don Ostler as the UCRC’s executive director July 1. Amy, formerly general counsel of the New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission, has been with the commission since last year, and has a long history of working within the interstate Colorado River governance process, including playing a central role in the negotiation of the recently signed U.S.-Mexico agreement known as Minute 323.
Reservoirs that store water along the Colorado River are projected to be less than half full later this year, potentially marking a historic low mark for the river system that supplies water to seven U.S. states and Mexico. Forecasters with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation expect the river’s reservoirs — Lakes Mead and Powell among them — to be at a combined 48 percent of capacity by the end of September.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority says it has more than enough water to supply new homes and businesses that could be built one day on thousands of acres of federal land just outside the Las Vegas Valley. The challenge will be getting the water there and making sure it is used — and reused — as efficiently as possible, said water authority chief John Entsminger.
Today’s [June 14] gauge-of-the-day is my [John Fleck] friend and colleague Eric Kuhn’s, at Glenwood Springs, Colorado. It’s just downstream from the junction with the Roaring Fork. Flows of ~3,600 cubic feet per second on June 13 were the fourth lowest since gauging at that spot began in 1967. Important to understand what this is telling us.
The fire 13 miles (43 kilometers) north of Durango is in the Four Corners Region where Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah meet — the epicenter of a large U.S. Southwest swath of exceptional drought, the worst category of drought. Moderate to extreme drought conditions affect larger areas of those four states plus parts of Nevada, California, Oregon, Oklahoma and Texas, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Western Water Editor’s Note: Nowhere is the domino effect in Western water policy played out more than on the Colorado River, and specifically when it involves the Lower Basin states of California, Nevada and Arizona. We are seeing that play out now as the three states strive to forge a Drought Contingency Plan.
It’s high-stakes time in Arizona. The state that depends on the Colorado River to help supply its cities and farms — and is first in line to absorb a shortage — is seeking a unified plan for water supply management to join its Lower Basin neighbors, California and Nevada, in a coordinated plan to preserve water levels in Lake Mead before they run too low. If the lake’s elevation falls below 1,075 feet above sea level, the secretary of the Interior would declare a shortage and Arizona’s deliveries of Colorado River water would be reduced by 320,000 acre-feet.
A fast-moving brush fire destroyed eight homes in the Utah tourist town of Moab, while more than 3,000 people in Colorado and Wyoming fled multiple wildfires scorching the drought-stricken U.S. West on Wednesday.
The agency that operates the CAP must look elsewhere for water for future suburban growth, now that it’s killed a proposed $34 million deal to buy land and water rights in rural Mohave County along the Colorado River. Officials of the Central Arizona Water Conservation District aren’t ruling out the possibility of trying to acquire water rights from Mohave or other rural areas on a shorter-term basis.
Extreme fire danger prompted officials to shut down a sprawling forest that includes some of Colorado’s most stunning mountains in a region that attracts tourists from around the world, a rare tactic also being used in neighboring states as the U.S. Southwest struggles with severe drought. National forests and parks in Arizona and New Mexico have already been shut down as precautions.
A wildfire in southwestern Colorado forced hundreds of evacuations and was expected to reach homes by Friday, authorities said. … It comes as a severe drought is gripping the American Southwest, especially the area where Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado meet.
Southern California voters toppled one Imperial Irrigation District board member and re-elected another, in a low-turnout election that nonetheless could have major consequences for millions of people who depend on water from the Colorado River.
What was heralded to be a big [Arizona] legislative session on water issues turned out to be much ado about nothing. For much of last year, groups appointed by Gov. Doug Ducey mulled behind closed doors over a raft of proposals aimed at halting declines at Lake Mead, improving groundwater management and clamping down on operators of the $4 billion Central Arizona Project.
Despairing over the impending loss of hundreds of jobs and 85 percent of its governmental revenue, the Hopi Tribe recently sued the Central Arizona Water Conservation District (CAWCD) for not honoring its contract to purchase power from the Navajo Generating Station until it pays back the federal loan used to build the station and construct the 336 mile-long Central Arizona Project (CAP) canal.
High Country News spoke with climate scientist Jonathan “Peck” Overpeck, a renowned researcher who is also passionate about public engagement. … In 2017, he co-authored a study with climate scientist Brad Udall that linked hot temperatures to decreasing flows in the Colorado River.
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.