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.
As stakeholders labor to nail down effective and durable drought contingency plans for the Colorado River Basin, they face a stark reality: Scientific research is increasingly pointing to even drier, more challenging times ahead.
The latest sobering assessment landed the day after Thanksgiving, when U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Fourth National Climate Assessment concluded that Earth’s climate is changing rapidly compared to the pace of natural variations that have occurred throughout its history, with greenhouse gas emissions largely the cause.
As stakeholders labor to nail down effective and durable drought contingency plans for the Colorado River Basin, they face a stark reality: Scientific research is increasingly pointing to even drier, more challenging times ahead. That reality could pose daunting challenges for Colorado River water managers and others who are already confronting the likelihood of near-term shortages, and looking ahead to longer-term concerns about the river’s sustainability. By Gary Pitzer in Western Water
In a story Dec. 13 about the Colorado River, The Associated Press erroneously reported the river’s mouth. The river empties into the Gulf of California, not the Gulf of Mexico. A corrected version of the story is below: Southwestern US states get Jan. 31 deadline for drought deal
On stage in a conference room at Las Vegas’s Caesars Palace, Keith Moses said coming to terms with the limits of the Colorado River is like losing a loved one. “It reminds me of the seven stages of grief,” Moses said. “Because I think we’ve been in denial for a long time.” Moses is vice chairman of the Colorado River Indian Tribes, a group of four tribes near Parker, Arizona.
With the water level in Lake Mead hovering near a point that would trigger a first-ever official shortage on the Colorado River, representatives of California, Arizona and Nevada are trying to wrap up a plan to prevent the water situation from spiraling into a major crisis. The plan is formally called the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan.
The head of the federal agency controlling the Colorado River said Thursday the U.S. government will impose unprecedented restrictions on water supplies to the seven Southwestern U.S. states that depend on the river unless everyone agrees by Jan. 31 on a plan to deal with an expected shortage in 2020.
Water managers from seven Southwestern states that depend on the Colorado River are close but haven’t finalized an unprecedented drought contingency plan they may have to enact in 2020. The federal government’s top water official, Brenda Burman, is expected to urge action Thursday at a Colorado River Water Users Association conference in Las Vegas where a pact was supposed to be signed.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California on Tuesday approved a plan for sharing Colorado River delivery cuts if a shortage is declared on the drought-depleted river. The vote by the district, which imports water to the Southland, represents another step in a years-long attempt to forge a shortage agreement among the seven states that depend on the Colorado for drinking and irrigation supplies.
The Imperial Irrigation District, which holds some of the oldest and largest rights to Colorado River water, on Monday tentatively agreed to a one-time contribution of up to 250,000 acre-feet of surplus water if needed to stave off shortages in Lake Mead. But they tacked on several last-minute conditions aimed at easing farmers’ fears of permanently losing water, and to force federal and state officials to guarantee funding for clean-up of the Salton Sea.
A property tax hike could be coming to Washington County, with water managers saying they need to increase revenues to cover the costs of developing new water resources for the St. George area, including the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline. … A public hearing on the plan is slated for 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Washington County Water Conservancy District office.
With drought entering a second decade and reservoirs continuing to shrink, seven Southwestern U.S. states that depend on the overtaxed Colorado River for crop irrigation and drinking water had been expected to ink a crucial share-the-pain contingency plan by the end of 2018. They’re not going to make it — at least not in time for upcoming meetings in Las Vegas involving representatives from Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the U.S. government, officials say.
The agency that manages the Central Arizona Project canal signaled its support for the latest outline of a Colorado River drought plan on Thursday in a vote that could lay the groundwork for a deal aimed at preventing Lake Mead from reaching perilously low levels. … And with this vote behind them, Arizona water officials will now have the framework of a state plan in hand as they join other water managers from across the West in Las Vegas next week for the annual Colorado River Water Users Association conference, where federal officials have said they hope to wrap up a Drought Contingency Plan.
Arizona says it’s one step closer to figuring out how to divvy up water cuts as the supply from the Colorado River becomes more limited. Several Western states that rely on the river are working on drought plans. The federal government wants them done by the end of the year.
A state judge on Thursday turned down a powerful Imperial Valley farmer’s request for an injunction against his irrigation district to stop them from signing a major Colorado River conservation plan. Superior Court Judge L. Brooks Anderholt denied the motion by Michael Abatti and his attorneys, a court clerk told The Desert Sun.
Arizona’s water agencies, cities, farmers and tribes haven’t quite sealed a Colorado River deal. But they’re getting closer. The outline of a new compromise proposal emerged this week and was presented at a meeting on Thursday.
In a chapter dedicated to climate change effects in the southwest, climate scientists say “with very high confidence” that warm temperatures are reducing the water content of mountain snowpack and the flows of rivers and streams that depend on snowmelt. The chapter’s landing page features a photo of low water levels at the nation’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead outside Las Vegas, Nevada, a near perfect symbol of the region’s ongoing water challenges.
A group of powerful Imperial Valley farmers and their irrigation district need to work together for the benefit of the region, according to Superior Court Judge L. Brooks Anderholt. He warned a fight between the two sides over rights to Colorado River water and the need to address a prolonged drought across the Southwest could spur action by Congress, or end up in the U.S. Supreme Court.
A fierce local battle over water rights unfolding in a small Southern California courtroom Wednesday could threaten federal plans to replenish rapidly dwindling Colorado River water supplies. A third-generation farmer is seeking an injunction to block the Imperial Irrigation District from signing on to the seven-state compact. The hearing comes a day-and-a-half after the longtime general manager for the district, Kevin Kelley, announced he will retire at year’s end, though he could stay on as a consultant.
In the week following a controlled flood on the Colorado River, Mick Lovett saw lots of fat fish near Lees Ferry, about 15 miles down river from Glen Canyon Dam. The fishing was expected to be excellent in that stretch of the river after the four-day flood stirred up extra food for the fish, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
Colorado River water managers have plenty to argue about. But there’s one thing on which nearly everyone who relies on the southwestern river can agree. The foundational document that divvies up the water — the Colorado River Compact — has some big flaws. Discussion on how to fix the compact’s problems is where that consensus breaks down, often with the invocation of one word: renegotiation.
The Latest on drought contingency plans being considered by states that rely on the Colorado River … Las Vegas-area water managers have become the first to advance a multi-state drought contingency plan that officials hope will ease the effects of Colorado River water shortages.
Octavia Patno and her mom, a federal hydraulic engineer, stood on a narrow walkway at the base of Glen Canyon Dam Monday morning, their heads covered with hard hats. The Colorado River flowed below. Red-rock canyon walls towered above. The dam’s hydropower turbines hummed.
The gap between Pinal County farmers and the Gila River Indians over how to protect the Colorado River and Lake Mead is far wider than the interstate highway separating their communities. … The Drought Contingency Plan’s goal is to reduce Arizona, Nevada and California’s take from the Colorado River over the next decade or so.
As the Colorado River Basin becomes drier and shortage conditions loom, one great variable remains: How much of the river’s water belongs to Native American tribes? Increasingly, tribes are pressing to have the importance of their water rights recognized and seeking the means to use them. An impending tribal water study should shed light on the issue as questions are raised about how to sustainably share water in an already overallocated Colorado River Basin.
As the Colorado River Basin becomes drier and shortage conditions loom, one great variable remains: How much of the river’s water belongs to Native American tribes?
Native Americans already use water from the Colorado River and its tributaries for a variety of purposes, including leasing it to non-Indian users. But some tribes aren’t using their full federal Indian reserved water right and others have water rights claims that have yet to be resolved. Combined, tribes have rights to more water than some states in the Colorado River Basin.
Water managers along the Colorado River are trying to figure out how to live with less. Climate change is growing the gap between the river’s supply, and the demands in the communities that rely on it, including seven western U.S. states and Mexico.
A public agency and a powerful farmer are gearing up for a high-stakes court battle to determine who owns the largest share of Colorado River water in the West, complicating the river’s future as seven western states scramble to avoid severe water shortages. There’s a long history of fighting over water in California’s Imperial Valley, which has a legal right to more than 1 trillion gallons of Colorado River water each year — twice as much as the rest of California, and as much as Arizona and Nevada combined.
Western Slope water managers have doubled down on their position that they will oppose federal legislation creating a new regulated pool of water to boost the falling level of Lake Powell unless Colorado adopts a policy that the pool should be filled only on a voluntary basis. … Water managers from Southern California to Wyoming are watching the ongoing debate because if Colorado can’t reach a consensus, an ongoing effort to establish a “drought contingency planning” program could falter.
Nearly a decade ago, Gabriel Lozada, a man with a wiry frame and waves of steel-gray hair who looks exactly like the mathematician he is, set out to answer what he thought was a relatively simple question: Could Utah’s proposed Lake Powell Pipeline — a plan to ferry Colorado River water to southern Utah — live up to the state’s rosy forecasts of growth and prosperity?
With a deadline approaching for Arizona to finish a deal that would divvy up cutbacks in Colorado River water deliveries, the state’s cities, tribes and agricultural irrigation districts are entering what should be the final stretch of negotiations.
In the 55 years since the federal government poured more than 5 million cubic yards of concrete across the Colorado River to form Glen Canyon Dam, the demand for water and electricity in Arizona, Nevada and California has turned the river’s ecology upside down. A river once wild, muddy and warm now flows cold and clear, every drop measured out to supply cities and farms downstream. Water levels ebb and flow hourly, erasing the spring surges and summer droughts innate in desert rivers.
Key reservoirs along the Colorado River are collectively at their lowest point at the start of a new water year since the last one filled nearly 40 years ago. As of Oct. 1 reservoirs that store the Colorado River’s water are at just under 47 percent of their capacity, according to recently released data from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
It was another bad year on the Colorado River, and the numbers prove it. … “We had a pretty good year in 2017, with an inflow into Powell of 110 percent of average. But unfortunately we lost that storage and a little bit more in 2018,” said Dan Bunk, a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation hydrologist.
Mitt Romney took up the question of water shortage this week in Utah, one of the driest states in the country, during a debate as he runs for a U.S. Senate seat in his adopted home state against Democrat Jenny Wilson. But federal water managers say he oversimplified a complex issue when he said Utah’s unused water allotment goes to California.
After years of stop-and-go talks, California and two other states that take water from the lower Colorado River are nearing an agreement on how to share delivery cuts if a formal shortage is declared on the drought-plagued waterway. Under the proposed pact, California — the river’s largest user — would reduce diversions earlier in a shortage than it would if the lower-basin states strictly adhered to a water-rights pecking order.
Seven Southwestern U.S. states that depend on the overtaxed Colorado River have reached landmark agreements on how to manage the waterway amid an unprecedented drought, including a commitment by California to bear part of the burden before it is legally required to do so, officials said Tuesday. The agreements are tentative and must be approved by multiple states and agencies as well as the U.S. government.
In 2007, years into a record-breaking drought throughout the southwestern U.S., officials along the Colorado River finally came to an agreement on how they’d deal with future water shortages — and then quietly hoped that wet weather would return. But it didn’t.
The phrase “climate change” did not appear on the agenda of a recent three-day meeting of the Colorado Water Congress, but the topic was often front and center at the conference, as it increasingly is at water meetings around the state and the region. Amy Haas, the new executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission, told the Water Congress audience of about 300 water managers, irrigators, engineers and lawyers that “hydrology is changing more rapidly than we once thought” and that “it is primarily due to climate change.”
Snowmelt is shrinking and runoff is coming earlier on the Upper Colorado River, the source of 90 percent of water for 40 million people in the West. This is leading to vegetation changes, water quality issues and other concerns. But it may be possible to operate reservoirs differently to ease some of these effects. In September’s episode of Deeply Talks, we spoke with two experts about the consequences and opportunities of these changes on the river.
Another rare Colorado River fish has been pulled back from the brink of extinction, the second comeback this year for a species unique to the Southwestern U.S. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to announce Thursday that it will recommend reclassifying the ancient and odd-looking razorback sucker from endangered to threatened, meaning it is still at risk of extinction, but the danger is no longer immediate.
The 20-year ban was meant to slow a flurry of mining claims over concern that the Colorado River — a major water source serving 30 million people — could become contaminated and to allow for scientific studies.
Once considered pipe dreams, the concept of saving the Salton Sea by tapping ocean water from Mexico, to keep the accidental salt lake from drying up, will get an official consideration at two meetings in the desert this week.
BURMAN ADDRESSES COLORADO RIVER, CALIFORNIA WATER NEEDS IN SUMMIT TALK; LEARN MORE ABOUT COLORADO RIVER WITH FOUNDATION MAPS, GUIDES
The Colorado River is likely headed to unprecedented shortage in 2020 that could force water supply cuts to some states, but work is “furiously” underway to reduce the risk and avert a crisis, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman told an audience at the Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento. Burman’s talk highlighted the challenges to the Colorado River Basin from persistent drought, and the efforts to come to terms on a drought contingency plan to stave off more draconian supply cuts to those who depend on the river for their water.
[Steve] Baskis was among five blind veterans — heroes chasing hero lines — kayaking the length of the Grand Canyon this month. … The Colorado River’s stretch through the Grand Canyon was first explored by a man with one arm. The blind veterans embraced John Wesley Powell’s legacy, giving the world a glimpse of inspiration and possibility just as that legendary explorer did 149 years ago.
The Colorado River Basin is more than likely headed to unprecedented shortage in 2020 that could force supply cuts to some states, but work is “furiously” underway to reduce the risk and avert a crisis, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman said during a talk in Sacramento. Burman, speaking at the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit, also said California needs more water storage, and added that raising Shasta Dam could be one way to effectively add storage.
The Colorado River Basin is more than likely headed to unprecedented shortage in 2020 that could force supply cuts to some states, but work is “furiously” underway to reduce the risk and avert a crisis, Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman told an audience of California water industry people.
During a keynote address at the Water Education Foundation’s Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento, Burman said there is opportunity for Colorado River Basin states to control their destiny, but acknowledged that in water, there are no guarantees that agreement can be reached.
The federal agency that had been handling the permitting process for the Lake Powell Pipeline announced Thursday it doesn’t have jurisdiction to handle the entire project on its own. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission submitted an order indicating it would only consider permitting for the hydroelectric facilities proposed for the project, and not the remaining 89 miles of connecting water delivery pipelines, although it would continue as the lead agency in charge of environmental analysis.
Utah has some difficult financial decisions to make as it considers the Lake Powell Pipeline. The governor-appointed Executive Water Finance Board toured Washington County water facilities Tuesday as part of its second and final day of meetings in Southern Utah. Board members are considering the pipeline and its potential costs to both the St. George area and the state as a whole.
In increasingly dry conditions, cities from Australia and the Middle East to the American Southwest are pursuing groundwater, either as an integral piece of their future water supply or as an emergency stopgap measure. Los Angeles, looking long-term, aims to double the share of its water supply that comes from groundwater by 2040 and cut reliance on distant and shrinking sources like the Colorado River.
Monsoon storms in the desert Southwest are vital for recharging groundwater – but it now appears likely this recharge effect may be compromised by climate change. The major cities of the Southwest – Phoenix, Tucson, Albuquerque, Las Vegas – currently get most of their freshwater from the Colorado River or its tributaries. That river, however, is experiencing its 19th straight drought year, suggesting a new permanent dry state is gripping the giant watershed.
A Canadian energy company will add to its helium operation with more than 3,000 acres of newly leased federal land near Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona. … Several rivers and streams flow near the leased parcels and empty into the Colorado River, which supplies water to 40 million Americans.
The Colorado River watershed faces increasing challenges from chronic water shortage. And it appears increasingly likely this is a new permanent condition, not an episodic drought. … Jack Schmidt, a professor of watershed sciences at Utah State University, is about to start a large new research project to explore reservoir operations in the watershed.
USGS SCIENTIST TED KENNEDY DISCUSSES EFFORT TO ENHANCE FOOD WEB TO AID ENDANGERED FISH AS WELL AS BIRDS AND BATS
Water means life for all the Grand Canyon’s inhabitants, including the insects that are a foundation of the ecosystem’s food web. But hydropower operations upstream on the Colorado River at Glen Canyon Dam disrupt the natural pace of insect reproduction as the river rises and falls, sometimes dramatically. Eggs deposited at the river’s edge are often left high and dry. Their loss affects available food for endangered fish such as the humpback chub.
Like rust slowly consuming the body of a car, drought has spread upstream on the Colorado River. The river’s Upper Basin – generally north of Lake Powell – has been largely insulated from the 19-year drought afflicting the giant watershed, thanks to the region’s relatively small water demand and heavy snows that bury Colorado’s 14,000ft peaks each winter. But this year, there was no salvation in the snowpack.
Water means life for all the Grand Canyon’s inhabitants, including the many varieties of insects that are a foundation of the ecosystem’s food web. But hydropower operations upstream on the Colorado River at Glen Canyon Dam, in Northern Arizona near the Utah border, disrupt the natural pace of insect reproduction as the river rises and falls, sometimes dramatically. Eggs deposited at the river’s edge are often left high and dry and their loss directly affects available food for endangered fish such as the humpback chub.
A top Nevada water and power official has been tapped by the Trump administration to lead the International Boundary and Water Commission for the United States and Mexico. The White House on Friday announced plans to appoint Jayne Harkins, executive director of the Colorado River Commission of Nevada, to head up the U.S. side of the cross-border treaty organization.
Warming temperatures are sapping the Colorado River, the water source for more than 40 million people in the southwest. A new study finds over the last 100 years the river’s flow has decreased by more than 15 percent. Colorado State University researcher Brad Udall co-authored the study with UCLA scientists Mu Xiao and Dennis Lettenmaier.
The White House plans to nominate Jayne Harkins, head of the Colorado River Commision of Nevada, to represent United States’ international interests related to the Colorado and Rio Grande rivers, both shared with Mexico. In a statement, the White House said it would nominate Harkins as the U.S. Commissioner on the International Boundary and Water Commission.
As Arizona officials laid the groundwork for the Central Arizona Project 50 years ago, they made promises that critics now say could imperil habitat, weaken river health amid worsening drought and cost taxpayers in a big way. In a bid to secure votes in Congress for the CAP Canal, the concrete channel that supplies Phoenix and Tucson with water from the Colorado River, Arizona struck a deal in 1968 that would give New Mexico the rights to water at Arizona’s expense.
With Lake Mead dropping to levels that could trigger water cutbacks in less than two years, there’s been a lot of talk lately about negotiating a deal to keep the reservoir from falling even further. But in a new report, scientists say the situation is just as worrisome upstream at Lake Powell. The declines there during the past 18 years, they say, also reflect the Colorado River’s worsening “structural deficit.”
Utah wants the federal government to resume its work permitting the Lake Powell Pipeline. Utah water officials in January asked to press pause on the project, worried over jurisdictional questions about whether the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would continue to act as the permitting agency.
The Colorado River is running low on water. The lifeline that slakes the thirst of 40 million southwestern residents is projected to hit a historic low mark within two years, forcing mandatory cuts to water deliveries in Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. … Many of those who watch the Colorado River closely say it’s tapped out, citing a range of symptoms: the impending shortage declaration, the river’s inability to reach the ocean, the species whose populations tanked as dams went up.
The Front Range water district that wants to build the Chimney Hollow Reservoir and pull more water from the Colorado River is delaying construction bids and issuing revenue bonds, citing a lawsuit by Save the Colorado, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups challenging federal approvals for the project.
In the past two years, St. George has added nearly 12,000 new residents to a population of approximately 153,000 people, many of them drawn by the city’s mild climate and access to public lands. But all this growth has stoked some rising tension over water and land in this former farm town. … That’s why in 2006, the Washington County Water Conservancy District announced plans to pursue a controversial pipeline connecting Lake Powell to southwest Utah.
In a story Aug. 15 about the Colorado River, The Associated Press, relying on information from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, reported erroneously when potential cutbacks could begin if a shortage is declared. A shortage could be declared in the latter part of 2019, and cutbacks could begin in 2020, not late 2019. A corrected version of the story is below:
Despite another dry winter on the Colorado River, Lake Mead and the millions of people who rely on it will avoid a water shortage for at least one more year. According to new projections from the Bureau of Reclamation, there will be just enough water in the reservoir east of Las Vegas at the end of 2018 to stave off a first-ever federal shortage declaration that would trigger mandatory cuts in Nevada and Arizona.
A lawsuit in California’s Imperial Valley could determine who controls the single largest share of Colorado River water in the West — a few hundred landowning farmers, or the elected five-member board of the Imperial Irrigation District.
A vital reservoir on the Colorado River will be able to meet the demands of Mexico and the U.S. Southwest for the next 13 months, but a looming shortage could trigger cutbacks as soon as the end of 2019, officials said Wednesday.
Serious water shortages on the Colorado River could be less than two years away, according to new federal estimates. Yet after 19 years of drought, just 500 farmers in one Arizona county may decide the fate of the entire Southwest: By holding tight to their own temporary water supply, they could stall a conservation plan designed to save the entire region from water shortages.
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.
The full story of Mike Abatti’s enormous influence — over the desert’s Colorado River water, agriculture and energy — has never been told. Until now. … He sued the Imperial Irrigation District, or IID, over its water apportionment plan, winning a sweeping ruling that critics say could create problems for millions of people who depend on the Colorado River.
Arizona water users are starting work on an ambitious plan to lessen the impact of Colorado River water shortages. About 40 people recently were named to a committee that will meet for the first time Thursday.
Every day, millions of gallons of water flow through pipes across the Coachella Valley and pour out to nourish lawns, artificial lakes, farmlands and a total of 121 golf courses. This lush oasis in the desert owes its existence to groundwater pumped from the aquifer and an imported supply of water from the Colorado River.
For the first time in well over a year, a clear path exists for completion of Arizona’s share of a three-state drought plan for the Colorado River. The plan would step up already-approved requirements for cuts in water deliveries to Arizona, Nevada and eventually California as Lake Mead drops below certain key levels.
Arizona water officials committed Thursday to reach a multi-state plan by the end of the year to stave off Colorado River water shortages, or at least lessen the impact. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has been prodding Western states to wrap up drought contingency plans, one each in the lower and upper basins.
The mention of one plausible future scenario along the Colorado River is enough to make some water managers in the West break into a sweat. It’s called the Compact Call, and even though it’s never happened — and is years away from ever happening — its invocation conjures up dystopian imagery of a southwest battling over scarce water supplies.
A four-year pilot program that paid ranchers and farmers in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico about $200 per acre-foot of water saved by fallowing fields in order boost water levels in Lake Powell will be put on hold after 2018. On Wednesday, the five members of the Upper Colorado River Commission unanimously passed a resolution to that effect at a board meeting.
Water leaders in Arizona are again trying to get to “yes” on a deal that deals with drought. This would help prepare the state for future cuts to its water supply if — and likely when — Lake Mead drops below specific levels. A renewed effort to achieve an agreement comes after a year of anxiety and gridlock over the future of the Colorado River.
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.
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.
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. Yet that plan can’t be finalized until Arizona finds a unifying voice between its major water players, an effort you can read more about in the latest in-depth article of Western Water.
Even then, there are some issues to resolve just within California.
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. Arizona says that’s enough to serve about 1 million households in one year.
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.
A bruising battle between the Central Arizona Project and many states and water users has revitalized the push for a stillborn plan to prepare for more drought on the Colorado River. The original dustup was over whether the CAP was seeking to “game the system” of reservoir operations at lakes Mead and Powell to benefit itself at the expense of the river’s Upper Basin states: Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming.
The Rio Grande is a classic “feast or famine” river, with a dry year or two typically followed by a couple of wet years that allow for recovery. … A study last year of the Colorado River, which provides water to 40 million people and is far bigger than the Rio Grande, found that flows from 2000 to 2014 were nearly 20 percent below the 20th century average, with about a third of the reduction attributable to human-caused warming.
The Colorado River has for years been locked in a pattern of chronic overuse, with much more water doled out to cities and farmlands than what’s flowing into its reservoirs. The river basin, which stretches from Wyoming to Mexico, has been drying out during what scientists say is one of the driest 19-year periods in the past 1,200 years.
Tens of thousands of people on the Navajo Nation lack running water in their homes. But that could change in the coming years, as the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project goes into effect. It’s expected to deliver water to the reservation and nearby areas by 2024, as part of a Navajo Nation water rights settlement with New Mexico, confirmed by Congress in 2009.
Climatologists and other experts on Wednesday provided an update on the situation in the Four Corners region — where Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah meet. They say the area is among the hardest hit and there’s little relief expected, and even robust summer rains might not be enough to replenish the soil and ease the fire danger.
Rivers are drying up, popular mountain recreation spots are closing and water restrictions are in full swing as a persistent drought intensifies its grip on pockets of the American Southwest. … With the region’s water resources strained, a top federal official has resumed pressure on states in the Southwest to wrap up long-delayed emergency plans for potential shortages on the Colorado River, which serves 40 million people in the U.S. and Mexico.
It’s been a tumultuous year for the Imperial Irrigation District. On the energy side, IID canceled tens of millions of dollars in contracts following allegations of financial conflicts of interest against the consultant ZGlobal Inc. On the water side, the publicly owned utility was jolted by a court ruling that could make it more difficult to limit the use of Colorado River water by Imperial Valley farmers.
As California embarks on its unprecedented mission to harness groundwater pumping, the Arizona desert may provide one guide that local managers can look to as they seek to arrest years of overdraft.
Groundwater is stressed by a demand that often outpaces natural and artificial recharge. In California, awareness of groundwater’s importance resulted in the landmark Sustainable Groundwater Management Act in 2014 that aims to have the most severely depleted basins in a state of balance in about 20 years.
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.
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.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the Colorado River is expected to carry only 43 percent of the average amount of water into Lake Powell, one of two huge reservoirs that store and distribute the river. It’s the fifth-lowest forecast in 54 years.
Anticipating years of drought, officials built the Yuma Desalting Plant in 1992 to treat agricultural runoff and conserve water in Lake Mead. Over the past 26 years, however, the plant has operated just three times while costing millions of dollars to maintain.
Arizona’s largest water provider tried Tuesday to defuse a multi-state dispute over the Colorado River, saying it regretted the belligerent-sounding words it used to describe its management strategy for the critical, over-used waterway. … It also pledged to cooperate on drawing up a multi-state plan for possible shortages in the river, which appear more and more likely because of the drought and climate change.
Any great fishing hole depends on the health and well-being of its bugs. In a key stretch of the Colorado River below a dam on the Arizona-Utah border, anglers have been pulling out long, skinny trout that don’t give up much of a fight with a hook in their mouths. Turns out, they don’t have enough to eat, scientists say.
In early April, federal forecasters came out with a sobering but not surprising prediction for many Colorado River water users after a grim snowpack across much of the Colorado River basin this winter. They projected that as the snow melted and entered the Colorado River system, much less water would flow into Lake Powell this spring than is normal.
The Mojave Indians call themselves Pipa Aha Macav — “The People by the River.” The Colorado River is the economic and spiritual heartland for the Mojave and three other tribes that inhabit the Colorado River Indian Reservation, about four hours west of Tucson.
A week into her appointment last fall as a Mohave County supervisor in western Arizona, Lois Wakimoto heard the words that would consume her since: We have a water problem. The entity that sends Colorado River water throughout Arizona wants to buy farmland in her district that includes Mohave Valley, pay farmers to fallow it and redirect the water to the state’s most populous areas where housing developments are booming.
A top official from the Southern Nevada Water Authority is calling on states that rely on the Colorado River to resolve their differences before a growing dispute derails decades of cooperation on the river. … The fight comes as Nevada, Arizona and California continue work on a drought contingency plan aimed at keeping Lake Mead out of shortage by voluntarily leaving more water in the reservoir.
Central Arizona water managers, facing backlash from other Colorado River users for allegedly undercutting regional conservation efforts, will visit Utah later this month aiming to smooth relations across a region struggling to agree on a way to save a key water supply.
Tension over the drought-stressed Colorado River escalated into a public feud when four U.S. states accused Arizona’s largest water provider of manipulating supply and demand, potentially threatening millions of people in the United States and Mexico who rely on the river.
Sin City has never been a place that thinks small. So it should come as no surprise that Las Vegas – about 300 miles from the Pacific Ocean – is pondering seawater desalination to meet its long-term water demand. That doesn’t mean Vegas plans to build a pipeline to the ocean. More likely, it would help pay for a desalination facility in a place like Mexico, then trade that investment for a piece of Mexico’s water rights in the Colorado River.
We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.
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 was the focus of this tour.
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Over the past few years, voices calling for the removal of one of the West’s biggest reservoirs have gotten louder. And while proponents—including scientists, activists, journalists, and government officials—have cited everything from ecology to economics in their quest to decommission Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona and restore that part of the Colorado River, very little has been said about the impacts such an action would have on the house-of-cards-like network of compacts, agreements, and obligations comprising the “The Law of the River.
CAP [Central Arizona Project] water, which comes from the Colorado River, will be less available to farmers in Central Arizona in the future. There are a few reasons for that. The first is the threat of a Lake Mead water shortage, which will be declared if the lake falls below 1,075 feet in elevation.
Colorado River forecasters say the Southwest should brace for the sixth-driest runoff season into Lake Powell since the government erected Glen Canyon Dam there 55 years ago. … River flow into Lake Powell is a key measure of water supplies on the Colorado, a critical water source for millions of people in seven Western states.
Pull out a map of the United States’ desert southwest and see if you can locate these rivers: Rio del Tizon, Rio San Rafael, River Buenaventura or Rio Zanguananos. How about rivers named Tomichi, Nah-Un-Kah-Rea or Akanaquint?
Dramatic swings in weather patterns over the past few years in California are stark reminders of climate variability and regional vulnerability. Alternating years of drought and intense rain events make long-term planning for storing and distributing water a challenging task.
Current weather forecasting capabilities provide details for short time horizons. Attend the Paleo Drought Workshop in San Pedro on April 19 to learn more about research efforts to improve sub-seasonal to seasonal precipitation forecasting, known as S2S, and how those models could provide more useful weather scenarios for resource managers.
A dry winter for the region feeding the Colorado River means Lake Mead’s water level could drop, but not enough to trigger an emergency shortage declaration that would force water cutbacks in Nevada and Arizona.
Near-record low snow levels remained at 60 percent of the median or less Sunday in the southern half of Colorado in the Arkansas, Rio Grande, San Miguel, Animas, Dolores and San Juan river basins, the latest federal survey shows. In the northern half of Colorado, snowpack hovered around 84 percent of the median in the Upper Colorado River and South Platte River basins, data show.
A drought has lingered in the Colorado River Basin since 2000, causing reservoir storage to decline from nearly full to about half of capacity. So far this year, a meager snowpack in the Rocky Mountains hasn’t helped much.
In fact, forecasters say this winter will likely go down as the sixth-driest on record for the river system that supplies water to seven states, including California, and Mexico.
On our Lower Colorado River Tour, April 11-13, you will meet with water managers from the three Lower Basin states: Nevada, Arizona and California. The three states are working to finalize a Drought Contingency Plan to take voluntary cuts to keep Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, from hitting critical levels and causing a shortage declaration.
Last year, farmers who lead the irrigation district in Blythe sued the biggest urban water district in the country to challenge what they called a “water grab.” Now the Palo Verde Irrigation District has dropped that lawsuit, looking to smooth the way toward a possible settlement with the Los Angeles-based Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
For years, Colorado River states have been negotiating a plan to avoid the worst – a shortage in Lake Mead so bad it could trigger unprecedented cutbacks. With the region experiencing drought conditions since 2000, even California, which has senior rights, came to the negotiating table.
An already dry winter for the Colorado River has gotten worse in recent weeks, but it won’t be enough to send Lake Mead to a record low — at least not right away. Despite worsening conditions in the mountains that feed the Colorado, forecasters still expect the reservoir east of Las Vegas to contain just enough water by the end of the year to avoid a first-ever federal shortage declaration.
Arizona will be hardest hit if 17 years of drought keep drying up a reservoir serving much of the Southwest, but the state’s lawmakers and governor don’t agree on how to keep water in the lake or who should be in charge. Lake Mead, a man-made reservoir fed by the Colorado River, is an essential water supply for several western states that will take a hit if lake levels dip much lower.
According to the National Water and Climate Center’s forecast for the Rio Grande Basin, the water supply outlook for spring and summer remains “dire.” … And conditions on the Colorado River, which feeds Lake Mead, don’t look good this year. The March forecast for the Colorado River Basin remains “well below average.”
The Salton Sea’s accelerating decline comes at the same time that water scarcity in the entire Colorado River Basin is fueling negotiations over the river’s future — and how much water agencies, cities and farmers will have to cut back if the southwest’s 18-year drought continues. Those negotiations are part of a process to create a new agreement called the Drought Contingency Plan.
U.S. scientists studying the effects of uranium mining around the Grand Canyon say they are lacking information on whether the radioactive element is hurting plants, animals and a water source for more than 30 million people. And they would not get to fully gather it if President Donald Trump’s 2019 budget proposal is approved.
Most people see the Grand Canyon from the rim, thousands of feet above where the Colorado River winds through it for almost 300 miles.
But to travel it afloat a raft is to experience the wondrous majesty of the canyon and the river itself while gaining perspective about geology, natural beauty and the passage of time.
Beginning at Lees Ferry, some 30,000 people each year launch downriver on commercial or private trips. Before leaving, they are dutifully briefed by a National Park Service ranger who explains to them about the unique environment that awaits them, how to keep it protected and, most importantly, how to protect themselves.
They also are told about the pair of ravens that will inevitably follow them through the canyon, seizing every opportunity to scrounge food.
If you live in Utah, chances are good that you’re getting a sweet deal on water for your lawn and landscaping. In fact, you might be paying next to nothing for it, at least compared to nearly everywhere else in the West.
We all know Hoover Dam, and you might know about the Imperial or other dams that manage the Colorado River. But the very first completed dam on the Colorado was the Laguna Dam. … Doug Cox at the Imperial Irrigation District manages the dam.
A formidable high-pressure ridge has settled off the West Coast, deflecting storms northward in much the same pattern observed in 2013, 2014 and 2015, and though scientists and policy experts debate the definition of “drought,” few would disagree that the American West is in the grip of another extraordinary dry spell.
The Colorado and the San Pedro rivers’ futures are on the line at the Legislature due to a controversial water bill. … But what’s not in the bill is also stirring conflict, particularly between the warring Arizona Department of Water Resources and the Central Arizona Project.
Lake Powell, which straddles Utah and Arizona, is expected to get 47 percent of its average inflow because of scant snow in the mountains that feed the Colorado River, said Greg Smith, a hydrologist with the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Be prepared for some of the West’s biggest and most important rivers and streams to see record low flows this spring and summer. That’s the message of the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center’s latest water supply forecast released Monday.
The agency that runs the CAP [Central Arizona Project] is setting aside Colorado River water for new development that by all rights should go to the Tohono O’odham and other Indian tribes, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation says.
Every spring in the western United States, snow melts off mountains, feeding rivers with surges of water that can cause disastrous floods. But warm weather isn’t the main culprit, a new study finds. Instead, dusty soil that sticks to snow can darken it and accelerate its melting.
Tickets are now on sale for the Water Education Foundation’s April 11-13 tour of the Lower Colorado River.
Don’t miss this opportunity to visit key sites along one of the nation’s most famous rivers, including a private tour of Hoover Dam, Central Arizona Project’s Mark Wilmer pumping plant and the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. The tour also visits the Salton Sea, Slab City, the All-American Canal and farming regions in the Imperial and Coachella valleys.
For [Celeste] Cantú, who has managed water agencies for more than two decades, the extraordinary winter heat is also a stark reminder of how the warming climate is compounding the strains on water supplies in the West. … The amount of snow on the ground is also far below average across the Colorado River Basin, where a 17-year run of mostly dry years has left reservoirs at alarmingly low levels.
There’s a term for what’s going on right now in the Sierra Nevada and the mountains that feed the Colorado River. It’s called a “snow drought,” and Nevada climate scientists warn that Westerners had better get used to the phenomenon.
Drought conditions persist in Arizona. At the same time, people in the water policy world are trying to keep the Colorado River at healthy levels. The Colorado is considered a lifeline for the Southwest.
A controversial pipeline project that would pump Colorado River water to a rapidly growing corner of Utah passed a regulatory goal and also hit a regulatory snag on the same day, prompting the state to ask the federal government to delay further decisions until the snafu is worked out.
The San Miguel and Dolores rivers are both southwestern Colorado waterways that begin high in the San Juan Mountains. Both carve through narrow, red sandstone canyons. Eventually, the two rivers become one when the San Miguel merges into the Dolores and the Dolores with the Colorado River in eastern Utah.
For years now, Lake Mead’s so-called “bathtub ring” has been a sign of less water flowing into the reservoir. Arizona, California, Nevada and Mexico rely on Lake Mead for their allotments from the Colorado River.
After asking for fast-track review in 2017, officials in Utah now want federal regulators to delay a decision on whether the state can build its proposed Lake Powell Pipeline. Construction of the billion-dollar-plus pipeline to deliver Colorado River water to communities in southern Utah is already behind schedule and has cost the state more than $30 million.
The first forecast for the Colorado River is in, and the outlook for the coming year is bleak. The National Weather Service’s Colorado Basin River Forecast Center predicts the river will flow at about 54 percent of its average volume during the key runoff period from April to July.
Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, also known as FERC, formally accepted the state’s application for the Lake Powell Pipeline. This notice affirms that the proposed 140-mile pipeline, which would draw water from the Colorado River to serve southwestern Utah communities is ready for environmental analysis and public comment.
Drought and climate change are having a noticeable impact on the Colorado River Basin, and that is posing potential challenges to those in the Southwestern United States and Mexico who rely on the river. In the just-released Winter 2017-18 edition of River Report, writer Gary Pitzer examines what scientists project will be the impact of climate change on the Colorado River Basin, and how water managers are preparing for a future of increasing scarcity.
States, federal and Mexican officials hailed a binational agreement this fall that they said could lead to a radical shift in how the region prepares for and responds to drought. But three months later, they appear no closer to a drought contingency plan, as negotiations have pitted states and water districts against one another, as the U.S. tries to hammer out details of the plan.
Drought and climate change are having a noticeable impact on the Colorado River Basin, and that is posing potential challenges to those in the Southwestern United States and Mexico who rely on the river.
In the just-released Winter 2017-18 edition of River Report, writer Gary Pitzer examines what scientists project will be the impact of climate change on the Colorado River Basin, and how water managers are preparing for a future of increasing scarcity.
Pull out a map of the United States’ desert southwest and see if you can locate these rivers: Rio del Tizon, Rio San Rafael, or Rio Zanguananos. How about rivers named Tomichi, Nah-Un-Kah-Rea or Akanaquint? Having some trouble?
Rising temperatures from climate change are having a noticeable effect on how much water is flowing down the Colorado River. Read the latest River Report to learn more about what’s happening, and how water managers are responding.
States, federal and Mexican officials hailed a binational agreement this fall that they said could lead to a radical shift in how the region prepares for and responds to drought. But three months later, they appear no closer to a drought contingency plan, as negotiations have pitted states and water districts against one another, as the U.S. tries to hammer out details of the plan.
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.
Sun-scorched desert mesa, 140 miles of it, lies between Lake Powell, the nation’s second-largest reservoir, and Utah’s Washington County, one of America’s driest metropolitan regions. … The [Washington County Water Conservancy] district plans to link the reservoir and the county with one of the longest and most expensive water pipelines ever proposed in the West.
The Colorado River and its tributaries provide water for about 40 million people and farmlands from Wyoming to Mexico. … In the Mexicali Valley, farmers say they’re concerned that as the pressures on the river grow – and as the [United States-based Constellation Brands'] brewery drinks up more of that precious supply – they’re likely to get less water.
There is a timelessness to the Colorado River as it makes its ancient run from the headwaters in the Upper Basin through the arid Lower Basin states and to the farm fields, wildlife habitat and urban environment that make up the Southwest. There also is a sense of urgency regarding how an overallocated river is managed for its many competing uses in the face of looming shortages and a grim climate change forecast that predicts much less river flow in the years to come.
Environmental activists sued Tuesday to halt a plan to pump water from beneath the Mojave Desert and sell it to Southern California cities and counties. The lawsuit takes aim at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for allowing Cadiz Inc. to build a 43-mile pipeline to transfer the water from its desert wells into the Colorado River Aqueduct so it can be sold to water districts.
With Tijuana and other rapidly growing coastal cities heavily dependent on the Colorado River, Baja California urgently needs to find new water sources. Baja California Gov. Francisco Vega de Lamadrid’s administration has offered a solution: Build the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere, enough to ensure a supply for decades to come.
This three-day, two-night tour explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.
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.
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Las Vegas, NV 89119
Though the novel case is seeking personhood for the Colorado River ecosystem, the suit’s proponents hope to use it as a launching pad for a broader rights-of-nature movement. … Rather than maneuvering within existing environmental law, where nature is considered property, rights-of-nature lawsuits seek to give the natural world rights to exist beyond its use to humanity.
One of the nation’s most successful partnerships between farm and urban water agencies has lately run into serious turbulence, potentially threatening an important Colorado River water-sharing deal. Twelve years ago, the Palo Verde Irrigation District in Blythe, California, signed an agreement with the powerful Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
California’s Water Resources Control Board described its new Salton Sea plan as a landmark agreement, but at least one expert is questioning the modified approach, calling it “Band-Aids to a very serious environmental disaster.” With water deliveries from the Colorado River coming to a halt at the end of this year, the shrinking lake will be reduced at an even faster rate, which the state says poses a public health risk due to particulate air pollution by dust blown from the exposed lake bed.
California regulators on Tuesday approved a plan to spend nearly $400 million over 10 years to slow the shrinking of the state’s largest lake, a vital migratory stop for birds and a buffer against swirling dust in farming towns. Funding for the Salton Sea is unclear but the plan enjoyed support of major water agencies and environmental advocacy groups and preserves a fragile peace among urban and rural areas in California on distributing the state’s share of Colorado River water.
During California’s five-year drought, the row of ponds in the desert north of the Palm Springs often lay empty and dry. But this year, the ponds have been filled to the brim with a record amount of water from the Colorado River. The Coachella Valley’s water utilities are using the influx of imported water to chip away at the long-term problem of groundwater overdraft.
Governors of 19 Western states are pressing the federal government to do more to prevent the spread of damage-causing invasive mussels from infected federally managed waterways. … The governors say they’re particularly concerned about the mussels reaching the Columbia River Basin, Lake Tahoe, and the Colorado River Basin above Lake Powell.
Rising temperatures are undermining the source of one-third of Southern California’s drinking water: the Colorado River. A new study by the U.S. Geological Survey finds the river’s flow has shrunk by about 7 percent over the past 30 years.
Rising temperatures are undermining the source of one third of Southern California’s drinking water: the Colorado River. A new study by the US Geological Survey finds the river’s flow has shrunk by about seven percent over the past 30 years.
In what one economic development expert calls a “unique case” of a tribe’s water rights claims being backed by all players, Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake on September 7 filed a new bill to ratify the Hualapai Tribe’s water settlement, an agreement negotiated between the tribe, Arizona, the federal government and others. … The bill, if enacted, will provide the tribe with 4,000 acre-feet of Colorado River water.
Should a river have legal rights of its own? Should it be able to thrive, and even evolve naturally, without human interference? Those are the deep questions asked in a precedent-setting federal lawsuit filed in September in which the Colorado River, as an ecosystem, seeks federal legal rights to exist and to flourish.
The Colorado River is seeking the judicial recognition of “legal personhood” in a lawsuit filed Sept. 25 against the governor of Colorado in federal court (the first hearing is scheduled for Nov. 14). A favorable ruling would not only affect Nevada and the six other states with direct ties to the 1,450-mile-long river; it would spark a significant shift in environmental preservation nationwide.
The clear waters of the Colorado River flow gently through the Headgate Rock diversion dam while boaters and Jet Skiers play upstream in front of the Blue Water Resort and Casino. The dam quietly siphons off almost one fourth of Arizona’s share of Colorado River water and sends it to nearby fields of alfalfa and cotton on the reservation of the Colorado River Indian Tribes.
In 2015, Albuquerque delivered as much water as it had in 1983, despite its population growing by 70 percent. In 2016, Tucson delivered as much water as it had in 1984, despite a 67 percent increase in customer hook-ups. The trend is the same for Phoenix, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, said longtime water policy researcher Gary Woodard, who rattled off these statistics in a recent phone interview.
A newly signed pact between Mexico and the United States is believed to be the first time that two nations have agreed to allocate part of a shared water resource to the environment. Farmers and cities in both countries will reap benefits from Minute 323, an update to an existing agreement that seeks to sustainably manage the water of the overburdened Colorado River basin.
A lot of people and jobs in the Southwest rely on water from the Colorado River. According to a University of Arizona study, the river system contributes more than $840 billion to the Gross State Products of Arizona and California alone. But the region’s in a long-running drought.
In March 2014, the staged release of water into the Colorado River Delta was an international spectacle. … Now, a second round of releases is headed to the delta that won’t be nearly as dramatic. But these flows will restore more riverfront with cottonwoods and willows than the last time and their impacts will likely last longer.
The California Supreme Court effectively brought to end this week a longstanding, bitter fight between water managers in Los Angeles and San Diego — a ruling that means the loss of billions in potential savings for local ratepayers.
Beside the winding curves of the Colorado River, the Palo Verde Valley spreads out in a lush plain in the middle of the desert, a farming oasis filled with canals and fields of hay. For 12 years, the valley’s farmers have been participating in a program that pays them to leave some of their lands unplanted and fallow, helping to slake the thirst of Los Angeles and cities across Southern California.
The United States and Mexico expanded a long-term agreement Wednesday that will allow both nations to continue using the Colorado River while also pushing more conservation efforts to ensure that water is available during droughts.
The United States and Mexico unveiled an agreement Wednesday to preserve the overtaxed Colorado River, including spending millions of dollars on conservation and environmental projects and drawing up plans to deal with any shortages amid drought and climate change.
As the Cadiz project seems increasingly likely to go forward, Sen. Dianne Feinstein issued a statement contending the underground desert water could ultimately contaminate much of Southern California’s water supply.
The United States and Mexico have agreed to renew and expand a far-reaching conservation agreement that governs how they manage the overused Colorado River, which supplies water to millions of people and to farms in both nations, U.S. water district officials said.
Does a river — or a plant, or a forest — have rights? This is the essential question in what attorneys are calling a first-of-its-kind federal lawsuit, in which a Denver lawyer and a far-left environmental group are asking a judge to recognize the Colorado River as a person.
An agreement amending the longstanding treaty between the U.S. and Mexico on management of the Colorado River will continue the practice of water shortage sharing, but also fund new conservation and environmental programs, and aim to reduce the risk of ruinous drought.
“The network”, as I [John Fleck] call the Colorado River governance structure in my book, is gathering this week in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to among other things celebrate the signing of a new agreement extending the agreement between the United States and Mexico over water sharing and allocation on the Colorado River.
The U.S. and Mexican governments are close to signing a landmark Colorado River deal that will establish rules for sharing water over the next decade and lay out cooperative efforts intended to head off severe shortages. … The new accord – titled Minute No. 323 to the 1944 Mexican Water Treaty – outlines a series of measures that build on the countries’ current 5-year agreement, which expires at the end of this year.