It’s only the beginning of August – typically the height of the farming season – but the irrigation ponds here in Sanpete County [Utah] ran dry a month ago. They are now filled with brush and desperate waterfowl while the land surrounding them lies barren, local farmers having already stripped up most of their crops to glean what little profit they can.
In the state known as the “mother of rivers,” the third-warmest and driest period in more than a century is wreaking havoc on waterways that provide the economic lifeline for rural communities and high-alpine habitat for Colorado’s signature fish, the greenback cutthroat trout.
Two Western Slope water conservation districts are moving forward with the third phase of a “risk study” exploring how much water might be available to bolster water levels in Lake Powell, and they are doing so without state funding to avoid Front Range opposition to the study. Lake Powell today is half full and dropping and water managers say several more years like 2018 could drain the reservoir, which today contains 12.3 million acre-feet of water.
Amy Haas recently became the first non-engineer and the first woman to serve as executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission in its 70-year history, putting her smack in the center of a host of daunting challenges facing the Upper Colorado River Basin, including a drying climate and less water for the river. Haas talked with Western Water’s Gary Pitzer about the Upper Basin’s challenges and what’s ahead for the four Upper Basin states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
Amy Haas recently became the first non-engineer and the first woman to serve as executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission in its 70-year history, putting her smack in the center of a host of daunting challenges facing the Upper Colorado River Basin.
Yet those challenges will be quite familiar to Haas, an attorney who for the past year has served as deputy director and general counsel of the commission. (She replaced longtime Executive Director Don Ostler). She has a long history of working within interstate Colorado River governance, including representing New Mexico as its Upper Colorado River commissioner and playing a central role in the negotiation of the recently signed U.S.-Mexico agreement known as Minute 323.
One truism about the future is that climate change will spare no place. Still, I [Cally Carswell] suspect the threat of warming feels more existential in New Mexico than it does in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes. … The forecasts for our water supplies are equally grim. The Colorado River’s flows are down about 20 percent since the start of the drought, and scientists believe the remarkable heat is responsible for up to half of the decline.
Water from Navajo Reservoir is staged at Cutter Reservoir before being shipped on the Navajo farmers, and (the reason for our visit) it’s also the holding tank for water to be delivered via the Cutter Lateral, a part of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project.
Two friends in recent days have kindly asked about my [John Fleck] well-being, noting that I haven’t posted anything on the blog since July 5. I’m fine, busy focused on the book Eric Kuhn and I are writing about the history of our hydrologic understanding of the Colorado River, and the interplay between science, politics, and policy.
Central Arizona Project and the Arizona Department of Water Resources have begun a fresh conversation regarding Arizona’s Drought Contingency Plan. This process, which began with a public briefing and technical briefing, continued on July 26, 2018 with the effort’s first Steering Committee meeting.
Parts of Colorado are experiencing the worst drought conditions in more than a decade. The severity of the drought varies across the state, from few if any impacts in the state’s northeastern corner to severe and record-breaking conditions in the southern half of the state.
For the first time since early April, the Middle Rio Grande is flowing continuously. Storms late last week pushed water into the river and its tributaries and, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the stretch of the river to Elephant Butte Reservoir is expected to remain continuous for about a week, maybe longer if the state gets more rain.
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.