Topic: Nevada

Overview

Nevada

As adjacent Western states, California and Nevada share similar issues related to drought and limited water resources. Both states are participants in the 1922 Colorado River Compact and the 2003 and 2007 Quantification Settlement Agreements to allocate Colorado River deliveries. Also, about two-thirds of Lake Tahoe lies in California and one-third in Nevada, and the two states have formed a compact to work together on environmental goals for the lake.

Aquafornia news University of Nevada, Reno

News release: New lab opens in Reno to support agricultural research

Located at the Knudtsen Resource Center at the University of Nevada, Reno, the lab will provide agriculture-focused analytical services to support faculty- and student-led research at the University. The lab is also offering analytical services for a fee to the general public, including property owners and homeowners, who may need to have soil or water samples analyzed.

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Colorado River water supply is predictable owing to long-term ocean memory

A team of scientists at Utah State University has developed a new tool to forecast drought and water flow in the Colorado River several years in advance. Although the river’s headwaters are in landlocked Wyoming and Colorado, water levels are linked to sea surface temperatures in parts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and the water’s long-term ocean memory.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: Happy New Water Year, where’d all that Colorado River water go?

Despite that reduction in flow, total storage behind Glen Canyon and Hoover dams has dropped only 2.6 million acre feet. That is far less than you’d expect from 12 years of 1.2 maf per year flow reductions alone. That kind of a flow reduction should have been enough to nearly empty the reservoirs. Why hasn’t that happened? Because we also have been using less water.

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Nevada Supreme Court holds that state may not reallocate adjudicated water rights for public trust

On September 17, 2020, the Nevada Supreme Court issued a decision on whether Nevada’s public trust doctrine permits reallocation of water rights previously settled under Nevada’s prior appropriation doctrine. The majority found that the public trust doctrine does not permit such reallocation.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

In correcting misappropriation of water, Nevada must balance legal rights with existing use

In the area that the Moapa Valley Water District serves, water users are facing an uncomfortable future: People are going to have to use less water than they were once promised. Over the last century, state regulators handed out more groundwater rights than there was water available. Today state officials say that only a fraction of those rights can be used, which could mean cuts.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Nevada dam changes give rare trout new life 115 years later

U.S. and tribal officials are celebrating completion of a $34 million fish bypass system at a Nevada dam that will allow a threatened trout species to return to some of its native spawning grounds for the first time in more than a century. Construction of the side channel with fish-friendly screens is a major step toward someday enabling Lahontan cutthroat trout to make the same 100-mile journey — from a desert lake northeast of Reno to Lake Tahoe atop the Sierra — that they did before the dam was built in 1905.

Aquafornia news The Sierra Nevada Ally

Walker Lake: Legal saga continues with endgame in question

According to river flow data, there is currently almost no water flowing into Walker Lake, a common condition. Today, where the riverbed meets the lake is an ooze of mud. The lake is all but biologically dead. But a decades-old public trust lawsuit made a move forward in its glacial process through federal courts last week, and advocates are hopeful Walker Lake, a cornerstone of the regional economy and ecology, can one day be revived.

Aquafornia news U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

News release: Partnership celebrates restoration of Truckee River fish passage to historical spawning grounds

On Wednesday, the Bureau of Reclamation joined its partners, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Farmers Conservation Alliance, to celebrate the completion of the Derby Dam Fish Screen Project. The infrastructure modernization project at Derby Dam will provide Lahontan Cutthroat Trout access to natural spawning grounds for the first time since 1905.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Editorial: Using Lake Powell to keep lawns green in Utah would be a waste of resources

The recent downgrade in the forecast for the flow of water in the Colorado River should be a death punch to the proposal to build a new pipeline out of Lake Powell. The pipeline was already a major threat to Las Vegas and much of the rest of the Southwest; now the threat risk is heading off the charts.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

This year’s monsoon season in Las Vegas? More like a ‘nonsoon’

The monsoon season — that period from mid-June through September that each year brings rains to the Mojave Desert and other areas of the Southwest from the tropical coast of Mexico — has been a dud this year. Las Vegas is in the middle of a record-breaking stretch without rain, and residents should be prepared for it to stay that way, scientists say.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Opponents of Colorado River pipeline project view delay as progress

Regional water conservation groups and a Clark County commissioner welcomed a request by Utah officials Thursday to extend the federal environmental review of a controversial plan to divert billions of gallons of water from the Colorado River to southwest Utah.

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Aquafornia news Associated Press

Walker Lake group to take water suit back to federal court

Lawyers representing Mineral County and the Walker Lake Working Group announced this week they intend to take a water rights case with broad implications back to federal appeals court to ask whether Nevada can adjust already allocated water rights to sustain rivers and lakes long-term.

Aquafornia news Utah State University

Blog: How well do we understand numbers in the Colorado River basin?

We analysed data reported by the Bureau of Reclamation and the U. S. Geological Survey that describe the primary inflows to Lake Powell and the Colorado River between Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Mead, as well as the losses from both reservoir and the releases from Hoover Dam. … The significance of the uncertainties we identify can be measured by reminding the reader that the annual consumptive uses by the state of Nevada cannot exceed 300,000 acre feet/year…

Aquafornia news Somach Simmons & Dunn

Blog: Colorado River Basin states request a better forum to resolve concerns with Lake Powell pipeline

In Utah, there is a significant effort underway to build a water delivery pipeline from Lake Powell to transport part of Utah’s Colorado River entitlement to Utah’s St. George area. As the federal environmental review for the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline in Utah continues, Utah’s six fellow Colorado River Basin states weighed in as a group, cautioning that unresolved issues remain.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Nevada Supreme Court ruled against reshuffling water rights to fix environmental issues. Walker Lake advocates still see a path forward

Last week, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that the state’s fundamental obligation to protect natural resources for future generations did not allow it to reallocate water rights issued under state law. The decision appeared to rule against litigants pushing to restore Walker Lake, where the use of upstream water rights has decreased the amount of water that reaches the lake.

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Aquafornia news High Country News

Killing the Vegas pipeline — Nevada’s attitude toward water is changing

Over the years, these groups united against a single cause: the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s “Groundwater Development Project,” a proposal to pump 58 billion gallons of water a year 300 miles to Las Vegas from the remote rural valleys of Nevada and Utah. … In May, their three decades of resistance to the pipeline ended in victory: The project was terminated.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Nevada Supreme Court says state cannot change water rights for ‘public trust,’ a loss for environmentalists, county

The Nevada Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the state cannot reshuffle existing water rights to prevent environmental damage, despite recognizing a legal principle that requires the government to preserve natural resources for future generations… The Nevada court, in a 4-2 decision, separated itself from the California Supreme Court, which reached the opposite conclusion in a landmark 1980s case.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Where groundwater gives way to warm springs, a fight continues over building a new desert town outside Las Vegas

The housing developer and the powerful water utility, locked into past contracts, are caught in a fight, playing out in hydrologic reports and hearing rooms, over what might seem a simple question: How much water is there? That answer is complicated by how much is at stake — a Colorado River tributary, the survival of an endangered Nevada fish and the future of development in a sweeping area outside Las Vegas.

Aquafornia news Western Water

The Colorado River is awash in data vital to its management, but making sense of it all is a challenge

Dizzying in its scope, detail and complexity, the scientific information on the Basin’s climate and hydrology has been largely scattered in hundreds of studies and reports. Some studies may conflict with others, or at least appear to. That’s problematic for a river that’s a lifeline for 40 million people and more than 4 million acres of irrigated farmland.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Why some in Nevada see Utah pipeline plan as ‘first salvo in coming water wars’

Lake Powell isn’t in Southern Nevada. Rather, it’s about four hours away by car in southern Utah. But some environmentalists say the water consumption of St. George, Utah, and neighboring communities could have a direct and deleterious impact on the Las Vegas water supply.

Aquafornia news ASU Now

Blog: Arizona State University water policy expert addresses new concerns about state’s precious resource

The cuts are a plan to keep Lake Mead, a reservoir at the Arizona-Nevada boundary, functional. Water levels have precipitously dropped as a result of historic overallocation and a drought that started in 2000. … ASU Now checked in with Sarah Porter of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at the Morrison Institute on how these new developments will impact the Copper State and its residents.

Aquafornia news KJZZ Radio

Colorado River flow now part of caddisfly battle in Bullhead City

The idea was to lower the flows while temperatures were still warm enough to dry out the caddis larvae. That required buy-in from local merchants and the Bureau of Reclamation, local tribes and others. They were able to do it, and on Aug. 27, the first of two flow reductions took place. When the river dropped, people pitched in for a day of river cleanup.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Nevada officials raise concerns about proposed Utah pipeline to tap into more Colorado River water

Nevada officials raised numerous concerns Tuesday about a proposed project to pipe large quantities of Colorado River water roughly 140 miles from Lake Powell to southern Utah… Six of the seven states that use the Colorado River also sent a letter to federal water managers Tuesday asking them to refrain from completing project permitting…

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Aquafornia news California Natural Resources Agency

News release: California/Nevada Tahoe Science Advisory Council elevates efforts to protect and restore Lake Tahoe

Nevada and California joined forces last week at the 24th annual Lake Tahoe Summit to advance the states’ shared priorities to protect and restore Lake Tahoe. … There is a long history of collaboration between Nevada and California to restore and protect the spectacular natural treasure of Lake Tahoe and its surrounding environment. This spirit of collaboration was a pillar of the 24th annual Lake Tahoe Summit

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Coyote Springs developer sues state of Nevada for ‘unconstitutional taking’ of water rights

A developer is suing Nevada’s Division of Water Resources after the state again denied plans to construct new homes at Coyote Springs, the latest setback in a decades-long effort to build a sprawling master-planned community about 50 miles north of Las Vegas. Coyote Springs Investment alleges state officials made a series of decisions that amount to an “unconstitutional taking” of the water rights it owns and planned to use.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Tribes, green groups sue over Trump rollback of water rights

The new suit, filed Tuesday on behalf of three different tribal groups and the Sierra Club, argues states and tribes have a right to place conditions on federal projects that could degrade waters within their borders or to reject them altogether. “These changes that cut into the tribe’s ability to protect its waters and fish harm us all,” Anthony Sampson, chairman of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe in Nevada, said in a release.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Nevada residents blast Utah’s Lake Powell pipeline plan

A group of residents in Laughlin, Nev., which sits along the Colorado River, are organizing a campaign to oppose a pipeline that would divert billions of gallons of river water to southwest Utah, reflecting intensifying struggles over water in the U.S. West.

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Aquafornia news Audubon

Blog: Lake Mead and Lower Colorado River to remain in tier Zero shortage for 2021

Above-average temperatures in spring resulted in a paltry 57% runoff, nowhere near enough water to refill the reservoirs that remain half-empty. Based on these conditions, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation recently determined that 2021 will be a “tier zero” year under the Lower Colorado River Basin Drought Contingency Plan, with reduced water deliveries for Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: Lower Basin use of main stem Colorado River water dropping to levels not seen since 1980s

A friend last week pointed out something remarkable. Arizona, California, and Nevada are forecast this year to use just 6.8 million acre feet of their 7.5 million acre foot allocation of water from the main stem of the Colorado River. And that’s not just a one-off.

Aquafornia news Boulder City Review

Opinion: Utah pipeline plan an affront to Nevada

Nevada and Utah share more than borders. We share the coveted and much-fought-over Colorado River. But it seems as if only one state — Nevada — is doing the difficult work to protect our most valuable resource

Aquafornia news NBC News Reno

Knowing Nevada: The Lahontan cutthroat trout

The snow along the mountains of Nevada’s Great Basin trickle down when the spring turns into summer. This produces a flurry of wildlife and natural resources in our area ponds, rivers, and lakes. … Along the majestic Truckee River, fishermen would collect thousands of trout from the late 1800’s to the 1900’s. Eventually, this would cause the near extinction of our state’s native species, the Lahontan cutthroat trout.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Forecast: Plenty of CAP water for Tucson and AZ for now despite overheated drought

The latest forecast from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, released last week, predicts that by the end of 2020, Lake Mead, which furnishes Central Arizona Project water, will be at 1,085 feet elevation. While that’s 5 feet lower than the lake stood at the end of 2019, it’s still 10 feet higher than the water level that would trigger the first major shortage, slicing more than 520,000 acre feet of water, roughly one-third of the state’s total supply.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Nevada, West face reckoning over water but avoid cuts for now

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released projections Friday that suggest Lake Powell and Lake Mead will dip 16 feet and 5 feet, respectively, in January from levels recorded a year earlier. Despite the dip, Lake Mead would stay above the threshold that triggers severe water cuts to cities and farms, giving officials throughout the Southwest more time to prepare for the future when the flow will slow.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Monday Top of the Scroll: As Lake Mead remains low, Arizona and Nevada face more water cutbacks

Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will again receive less water from the Colorado River next year under a set of agreements intended to help boost the level of Lake Mead… The federal Bureau of Reclamation released projections Friday showing that Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir, will be at levels next year that continue to trigger moderate cutbacks in the two U.S. states and Mexico.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Friday Top of the Scroll: US West faces reckoning over water but avoids cuts for now

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation is expected to release projections Friday that suggest Lake Powell and Lake Mead will dip slightly in 2021. … Despite the dip, Lake Mead’s levels are expected to stay above the threshold that triggers mandatory water cuts to Arizona and Nevada, giving officials throughout the Southwest more time to prepare for a future when the flow will slow.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Phys.org

Researchers propose climate-smart desert food production model for land and human health

Water-efficient succulents and nitrogen-fixing tree legumes may take five to 12 years to produce their first nutritional harvests. Nevertheless, they can produce more edible biomass over a decade with far less water than that used by conventional annual crops, while sequestering carbon into the soil to mitigate climate change…

Aquafornia news St. George Spectrum

Opinion: Facts show holes in Utah’s Lake Powell pipeline plan

We deserve complete, dependable information and accurate cost data including well-reasoned analysis that demonstrates the need and economic viability of the pipeline. Instead, studies by the Utah Division of Water Resources and the Washington County Water Conservancy District are biased, incomplete and do not fairly consider feasible, much less costly alternatives.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion: Fixing the Colorado River is tough. Good thing Arizona started early

The newly passed Drought Contingency Plan spurred additional conservation and left more water in the lake. An unusually wet year also helped, because it allowed states to fall back on other supplies. But the fundamental problem remains: The river still isn’t producing the amount of water we use in a typical year. We’re still draining the mighty Colorado.

Aquafornia news National Geographic

Can the Colorado River keep on running?

The average annual flow of the Colorado River has decreased 19 percent compared to its 20th century average. Models predict that by 2100, the river flow could fall as much as 55 percent. The Colorado River, and the people it sustains, are in serious trouble.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Opinion: Nevada should challenge Utah’s move for a Lake Powell pipeline

Legal scholars believe that the Lake Powell pipeline would likely violate the 1922 Colorado River Compact as a transfer of upper basin water (WY, UT, CO, NM) for lower basin use (CA, NV, AZ). The lower basin has priority, and the compact arguably prohibits transfers from the upper to lower basin absent explicit congressional authorization

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

Monday Top of the Scroll: Imperial Irrigation District retains control over Colorado River water in legal tussle with farmer Michael Abatti

The Imperial Irrigation District and farmer Michael Abatti have been locked in a years-long legal battle with as many twists as the river over which it has been fought. The saga might finally come to an end, though, after a California appellate court handed down a ruling on Thursday that found IID is the rightful manager of the portion of the Colorado River guaranteed to the Imperial Valley.

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Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

IID seeks Salton Sea consideration in Colorado River water lawsuit

The Imperial Irrigation District has filed its opening brief in a case against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California that it launched last year in an attempt to halt the implementation of the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan for the Colorado River. IID wants to see it paused until the Salton Sea is also considered.

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Aquafornia news St. George Spectrum

Lake Powell Pipeline: Officials peppered with questions at first meeting

The public last week had its first opportunity to pepper officials with questions about the Lake Powell Pipeline’s recently-released draft environmental impact statement, a 313-page document from the Bureau of Reclamation examining how the controversial project could impact a myriad of resources in several scenarios.

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Aquafornia news Inside Climate News

Humpback chub ‘alien abductions’ help frame the future of the Colorado River

Researchers in the Grand Canyon now spend weeks at a time, several times a year, monitoring humpback chub, which has become central to an ecosystem science program with implications for millions of westerners who rely on Colorado River water.

Aquafornia news Northern Nevada Business Weekly

Backed by state funds, Nevada water tech startup spins out of DRI in Vegas

In 2013, Nevada was in a dry spell in more ways than one. The aftershocks of the Great Recession lingered, and the state was in the midst of 20 years of drought. In response, the Desert Research Institute branch in Las Vegas, with funding through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development’s Knowledge Fund, launched a startup called WaterStart, which set out to deploy new water technologies and make the Silver State a hub for water innovation.

Aquafornia news Nevada Today

Blog: Plant tissue engineering improves drought and salinity tolerance

After several years of experimentation, scientists have engineered thale cress, or Arabidopsis thaliana, to behave like a succulent, improving water-use efficiency, salinity tolerance and reducing the effects of drought. The tissue succulence engineering method devised for this small flowering plant can be used in other plants to improve drought and salinity tolerance with the goal of moving this approach into food and bioenergy crops.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Nevada mulls EPA reversal of Obama era drinking water rules

The Trump administration has decided a chemical with a notorious legacy in Nevada will not be regulated in drinking water, but state officials say the reversal of the Obama-era policy shouldn’t result in any decline in drinking water standards across the state.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Arizona starts talks on addressing dwindling Colorado River

Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, California, Utah, Wyoming and Nevada have been operating under a set of guidelines approved in 2007. Those guidelines and an overlapping drought contingency plan will expire in 2026. Arizona water officials are gathering Thursday to start talking about what comes next, while other states have had more informal discussions.

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Aquafornia news FishBio

Blog: Recovering lost leviathans: Pyramid Lake Lahontan cutthroat

While these remarkable giants have been only a distant memory in most of their range, recently, fish carrying the ancestral genes of Pyramid Lake Lahontan cutthroat trout migrated to the waters of the Truckee River in 2014 to spawn for the first time in 80 years. The return of these fish … represents the culmination of years of conservation efforts by local, state, and federal agencies, as well as the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe.

Aquafornia news Los Angeles Times

Colorado River water battle comes to a boil in California

There’s a reckoning coming, unless cities and farm districts across the West band together to limit consumption. The coming dealmaking will almost certainly need to involve the river’s largest water user, the Imperial Irrigation District. But at the moment, it’s unclear to what extent the district actually controls the Imperial Valley’s Colorado River water. That was the issue debated in a San Diego courtroom last week

Aquafornia news Courthouse News Service

Nevada water order kills real estate project

Nevada restricted groundwater pumping Tuesday in an area north of Las Vegas, potentially killing a real estate project that threatens an endangered fish clinging to existence in a handful of spring-fed desert pools…

Aquafornia news CarsonNow.org

Nevada State Engineer issues order to ensure sustainable water development in Lower White River flow system

Nevada is in a new era of water management. As the driest state in the nation, responsible and sustainable management of Nevada’s limited water resources is the foremost priority of the Nevada Division of Water Resources. As part of this commitment, Monday the Nevada State Engineer issued Order No. 1309 for one of Nevada’s most important and unique hydrographic basins called the Lower White River Flow System.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Environmentalists see regulatory, funding gaps amid Clean Water Act rollback

Although the Clean Water Act will still protect heavily used waterways in Nevada, including the Colorado River and the Truckee River, it excludes many wetlands and most seasonal streams. As a result, the rule has set off a flurry of legal challenges from environmental groups. And in recent months, several Democrat-led Western states, including Colorado, California and New Mexico, have sued the Trump administration to challenge the final rule. Nevada has not joined those suits.

Aquafornia news Arizona Department of Water Resources

News release: Roberto Salmón, Mexican commissioner, steps down from position with International Boundary Waters Commission

In his time with the commission, which has the responsibility for applying the boundary and water treaties between the United States and Mexico, the two nations have taken huge steps forward in assuring that commitments to the primary binational water agreement in the Southwest – the 1944 Mexico-U.S. Water Treaty – were faithfully upheld.

Aquafornia news Pagosa Springs Sun

Opinion: Secretary Babbitt’s river plan doesn’t go far enough

When former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt suggested in a recent opinion piece that a portion of agricultural water rights on the Colorado River should be transferred to urban areas, it no doubt conjured up some strong emotions… But Babbitt’s proposal makes sense and he is right about the need to recognize the mismatch in population between the urbanized West and rural areas where most of the basin’s water is allocated.

Aquafornia news Nevada Public Radio

Is this the end of a 30-year fight over a proposed water pipeline?

On May 21, the Southern Nevada Water Authority board of directors voted to indefinitely defer its groundwater development project, which opponents had dubbed the “water grab.”  The unanimous vote brought an end to more than three decades of acrimonious battle with the Great Basin Water Network.

Aquafornia news Pagosa Daily Post

Opinion: Concerning the Colorado River

While Imperial Irrigation District has the largest right within California, it was not the Imperial Valley that was responsible for California’s overuse. That was the Metropolitan Water District. We are among the very oldest users on the Colorado River and have built a community, ecology, and way of life here in the desert dependent upon the waters of the Colorado that have sustained us since 1901.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Las Vegas water use dropped when businesses closed. Now, it’s going back up

Las Vegas water use decreased rapidly starting in mid-March, around the same time that Gov. Steve Sisolak instituted a stay-at-home order and closed most nonessential businesses. But since late April, it has gradually been increasing to more typical levels, Las Vegas Valley Water District data shows.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

In Nevada, investors eye underground water storage as a path to profits

Across the Southwest, investors are banking on water scarcity. They are buying up farms and ranches as states explore new programs that could make it easier to sell and transfer water. … Today a new type of investor has started eyeing water in the basin, less intent on building a new community than on supporting existing ones within one of the nation’s fastest growing states.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Opinion: Saving the Colorado River doesn’t have to mean hurting farmers

The imbalance on the Colorado River needs to be addressed, and agriculture, as the biggest water user in the basin, needs to be part of a fair solution. But drying up vital food-producing land is a blunt tool. It would damage our local food-supply chains and bring decline to rural communities that have developed around irrigated agriculture.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: 2020 is a dry year on the Colorado River. What happens next year will be more important

This winter’s decent snowfall has turned into an abysmal runoff on the Colorado River, thanks to the dry soils heading into the winter, along with a warm spring. … Our bigger concern is what happens next year. Are we headed for a multi-year drought?

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Southern Nevada Water Authority: Las Vegas water pipeline plan shelved

Citing conservation gains and a third straw to the bottom of Lake Mead, the Southern Nevada Water Authority on Thursday voted to shelve a proposal for a multi-billion pipeline that would have moved water from Northern and Eastern Nevada to Las Vegas. The vote means the pipeline staunchly opposed by rural communities, American Indian tribes and conservationists is dead – or at least going into a long, deep coma.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Water authority gives up 30-year proposal to pump groundwater to Las Vegas

The Southern Nevada Water Authority voted Thursday to withdraw all pending groundwater importation applications, return a right-of-way associated with groundwater importation plans to the Bureau of Land Management and take other actions to move the multibillion-dollar groundwater development project — sometimes referred to as the water pipeline project — into “indefinite deferred status.”

Aquafornia news Cornell Chronicle

Complex dynamics of water shortages highlighted in study

Cornell engineers have used advanced modeling to simulate more than 1 million potential futures – a technique known as scenario discovery – to assess how stakeholders who rely on the Colorado River might be uniquely affected by changes in climate and demand as a result of management practices and other factors.

Aquafornia news Western Water

Monday Top of the Scroll: Questions simmer about Lake Powell’s future as drought, climate change point to a drier Colorado River Basin

Sprawled across a desert expanse along the Utah-Arizona border, Lake Powell’s nearly 100-foot high bathtub ring etched on its sandstone walls belie the challenges of a major Colorado River reservoir at less than half-full. How those challenges play out as demand grows for the river’s water amid a changing climate is fueling simmering questions about Powell’s future.

Aquafornia news Sustainable Waters

Blog: Let’s refill lakes Mead & Powell now

As of Monday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s forecast for this year’s expected water supplies in the Colorado River is at 59% of average. That’s not good news. If that prediction proves true, this will be one of the driest water years since Lake Powell was constructed nearly 60 years ago.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Opinion – Bruce Babbitt: Here’s how less than 10% of farmland could solve the Colorado River’s water deficit

There is a better, more equitable pathway for reducing the deficit without forcing arbitrary cuts. It involves 3 million acres of irrigated agriculture, mostly alfalfa and forage crops, which consume more than 80% of total water use in the basin. By retiring less than 10% of this irrigated acreage from production, we could eliminate the existing million acre-foot overdraft on the Colorado River..

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

Opinion: The tale of two pipelines for desert cities

Nevadans and Utahns won a major economic and environmental victory in mid-April that will help protect air quality along the Wasatch Front and the Great Basin’s fragile water supply –– including Great Salt Lake.

Aquafornia news Nevada Public Radio

Study: Southwest U.S. in midst of megadrought like no other

Southern Nevada has been in a drought for about 20 years. But now, we’re learning this isn’t just drought – it’s a megadrought. That’s a one in 500 years drought.

Aquafornia news University of Nevada, Reno

Blog: Prediction tool shows how forest thinning may increase Sierra Nevada snowpack

The University’s Adrian Harpold recently led a team in developing a modeling tool to focus on the issue of water quantity. The tool predicts how different approaches to thinning the forest impact snowpack accumulation in Lake Tahoe, which controls how much water is available for downstream communities such as Reno.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Opinion: Las Vegas pipeline outcome offers new opportunity

Rural and urban Nevada can both rest a little easier now that the massive pipeline project is not at the forefront of the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s plans. But there is still plenty of work to do to protect and expand the water supply in Las Vegas while doing the same in rural parts of the state.

Aquafornia news Gardnerville Record Courier

A dam site longer than anticipated

It has been 30 years since the last time a dam was seriously considered on the East Fork [of the Carson River] as a means to reduce flooding and increase water for agriculture and other uses. … The East Fork begins near the base of Sonora Peak in California. The river’s upper gorge was carved out by a 16-mile glacier coming off the 11,500-foot high mountain. It is one of only two major free-flowing rivers in the Eastern Sierra.

Aquafornia news Water Power Magazine

USBR resumes seismic safety project at Boca Dam

The US Bureau of Reclamation is to resume a seismic safety modification project at Boca Dam near Truckee in California today, following its seasonal closure in November 2019, with social distancing guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other COVID-19 precautions to be followed during construction.

Aquafornia news Arizona Public Radio

USBR forecasts “Tier Zero” shortage on Colorado River

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released projections for the Colorado River’s water supply for the next two years. … Lake Mead is projected to fall into “Tier Zero” conditions for 2021 and 2022. That’s a new designation under the Drought Contingency Plan which requires Arizona, Nevada and Mexico take cuts in their water supply.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Water authority shelves controversial Las Vegas pipeline project

The Southern Nevada Water Authority is ending a decades-long effort to build a controversial 300-mile pipeline to pump rural groundwater from eastern Nevada to Las Vegas. On Thursday afternoon, the water authority confirmed in a statement that it would not appeal a recent court ruling that denied the agency a portion of its water rights.

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Blog: Pandemic shines a light on critical water issues — Will Congress fund solutions?

We know one thing for sure: We need to wash our hands well and often. And for that we need clean, running water. But so far the federal legislative responses to the novel coronavirus crisis have not included financial support for water utilities, most of which are public agencies. And there’s been no federal mandate to prevent water shutoffs for households unable to pay their bills.

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Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Tribes protest Nevada mine expansion, groundwater pumping plan

Opponents of the mine expansion in Elko County are worried about phase two of the Long Canyon Mine near Wells that includes a dewatering plan that would pump billions of gallons of water annually from an aquifer deep below the Pequop Range and Goshute Valley.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

More drought on tap for Western US amid low river flows

The models show drought is expected to keep its hold over the mountains along the New Mexico-Colorado border that feed the Rio Grande, while California, Nevada and other southwestern states aren’t likely to see a reprieve from dry conditions through June.

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Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Opinion: Without the Carson River, Nevada might not be here!

Without the river, there would not have been an Emigrant Trail through this site, gold would not have been discovered in Dayton and who knows when the Comstock Lode would have been discovered and Nevada might not even be Nevada today!

Aquafornia news Pacific Institute

Blog: Corporate water stewardship in the Colorado River Basin

This report, “Scaling Corporate Water Stewardship to Address Water Challenges in the Colorado River Basin,” examines a set of key corporate water stewardship actions and activities, with associated drivers and barriers, to identify how the private sector could help tackle Colorado River water challenges.

Aquafornia news Nevada Public Radio

Audio: The time for this water-saving grain in Nevada is now

Researchers with the University of Nevada, Reno, have been working to evaluate and commercialize crops that use less water. Professor John Cushman and his team think they’ve found an alternative. It’s called teff.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Opinion: There’s no plan to save the Colorado River

The latest research about the Colorado River is alarming but also predictable: In a warming world, snowmelt has been decreasing while evaporation of reservoirs is increasing. Yet no politician has a plan to save the diminishing Colorado River.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

District Court judge reaffirms decision to deny water for Las Vegas pipeline

A District Court judge has once again scuttled the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s plans to obtain and pump rural groundwater about 300 miles from eastern Nevada, prompting one Clark County commissioner to call on the water authority “to look in a different direction.”

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Water bills might increase in Southern Nevada if $3B plan approved

A $3 billion package of water projects recommended for approval by the Southern Nevada Water Authority this month could raise average residential bills by $10, while providing a boost to the Apex Industrial Park in North Las Vegas.

Aquafornia news Grand Junction Sentinel

Nevada town has disappeared and re-emerged over 150 years

As the waters of Lake Mead have risen and fallen over the years, the remains of the village of St. Thomas have reappeared, then disappeared again, only to re-emerge years later. It’s a sort of Brigadoon for the southwestern United States.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Nevada Supreme Court hears arguments about the state’s role in protecting water for the ‘public trust’

The Nevada Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case weighing how state regulators should consider “public trust” values — the environment or recreation — when the sustainability of lakes or rivers could be harmed by how the state has allocated water rights.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Controversial Walker Lake hydropower proposal wins preliminary permit

A proposal to pump water out of Nevada’s fragile Walker Lake to generate hydropower to sell in California won preliminary approval from federal regulators. On Friday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a preliminary permit and granting priority to file for the proposed Walker Lake Pumped Storage Project.

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

Opinion: The dam truth about the Colorado River

If you followed the news about the Colorado River for the last year, you’d think that a political avalanche had swept down from Colorado’s snow-capped peaks and covered the Southwest with a blanket of “collaboration” and “river protection.” I won’t call it fake news, but I will point out errors of omission.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: Robert Moses, the Colorado River, and the tragedy of the anticommons

I have long argued that a robust governance network, both formal and informal, around the management of the Colorado River provides the necessary conditions for managing the problems of the river’s overallocation and the increasingly apparent impacts of climate change. … But as we approach the negotiation of the next set of Colorado River management rules – a process already bubbling in the background – it is not hard to see how my thesis could break down.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Nevada Supreme Court hears arguments about the state’s role in protecting water for the ‘public trust’

The Nevada Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in a case weighing how state regulators should consider “public trust” values — the environment or recreation — when the sustainability of lakes or rivers could be harmed by how the state has allocated water rights.

Aquafornia news The Weather Channel

Climate change threatens Colorado River and the water supply for 40 million people

Climate change has dramatically decreased natural flow in the Colorado River, jeopardizing the water supply for some 40 million people and millions of acres of farmland, according to new research from the USGS. The decline is expected to continue unless changes are made to alleviate global warming and the impacts of drier, hotter temperatures.

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Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Declining snowpack due to climate change has cut the Colorado River’s annual flow by 10 percent, study finds

The Colorado River’s average annual flow has declined by nearly 20 percent compared to the last century, and researchers have identified one of the main culprits: climate change is causing mountain snowpack to disappear, leading to increased evaporation.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Bloomberg Environment

Land bureau may exempt plans from environmental review

The Bureau of Land Management may stop studying how its long-term blueprints for millions of acres of public lands would affect the environment, according to a document shared with Bloomberg Environment. … The BLM may propose a land use planning rule that will “remove NEPA requirements from the planning regulations,” referring to the National Environmental Policy Act,

Aquafornia news Smart Water Magazine

Scientists connect 2018’s Four Corners drought directly to human-caused climate change

The 2018 Four Corners drought — centered on the junction between Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico — put the region deep in the red. An abnormally hot spring and summer indicated that climate change was clearly at work, but that was about as much as most people could say… Climate scientists from UC Santa Barbara have now distilled just how strong an effect human-induced warming had on that event.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

The Colorado River had a stellar 2019, but this year’s forecasts are below average

Right now, the April-July runoff is supposed to be 82% of average. That compares to 145 % of average in 2019, the second-best runoff season in the past 20 years, says the federal Colorado Basin River Forecast Center. Despite last year’s excellent river flows, most experts also say the Colorado still faces long-term supply issues…

Aquafornia news Cronkite News-Arizona PBS

Teamwork will be key to balancing the overcommitted Colorado River

Along with long-term drought and climate change, the overcommitment of the Colorado River is a big reason why Lake Mead has dropped to historic levels in recent years. Fixing it could be a big problem for Arizona.

Aquafornia news Cronkite News-Arizona PBS

Colorado River overcommitted on water availability

In the early years of the 20th century, leaders across the West had big dreams for growth, all of which were tied to taking water from the Colorado River and moving it across mountains and deserts. In dividing up the river, they assigned more water to users than the system actually produces.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Time to move faster on cutting Colorado River use, conservationist warns

The Lower Basin states of Arizona, California and Nevada need to cut total water use by 18% from their 2000-2018 average to bring Lakes Mead and Powell into a long-term state of balance, says Brian Richter. Richter is president of the nonprofit group Sustainable Waters and a former director and chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy’s Global Water program.

Aquafornia news The New York Times

‘A slow-motion Chernobyl’: How lax laws turned a river into a disaster

The river is a powerful example of Mexico’s failure to protect its environment: A New York Times analysis of 15 years of efforts to clean up the Santiago found that attempts floundered in the face of legal loopholes, deficient funding and a lack of political will.

Aquafornia news KUNC

With drought plans finished, water managers pause Colorado River negotiations

In theory, a demand management program would pay users to conserve in the midst of a crisis in order to boost the river’s big reservoirs. How it would work, who would participate and how it would be funded are still unanswered questions. Another concern is how to make the program equitable — so it doesn’t burden one user over another.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Nevada river commission intervenes in lawsuit over Glen Canyon Dam

The Colorado River Commission of Nevada unanimously voted this week to intervene into a lawsuit between the U.S. Department of the Interior and a group of environmental activists led by the nonprofit Save the Colorado River. The lawsuit alleges the department, in drafting a long-term plan for the Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona, did not fully consider the impacts of climate change…

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Nevada river commission intervenes in lawsuit over Glen Canyon Dam

The Colorado River Commission of Nevada unanimously voted this week to intervene into a lawsuit between the U.S. Department of the Interior and a group of environmental activists led by the nonprofit Save the Colorado River. The lawsuit alleges the department, in drafting a long-term plan for the Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona, did not fully consider the impacts of climate change…

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Federal government will review Colorado River rules in 2020

Federal water managers are about to start reexamining a 12-year-old agreement among Western states that laid down rules for dealing with potential water shortages along the Colorado River. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said he asked the Bureau of Reclamation to start the review at the beginning of 2020, rather than by the end of 2020, which is the deadline under the existing agreement.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Federal government will review Colorado River rules in 2020

Federal water managers are about to start reexamining a 12-year-old agreement among Western states that laid down rules for dealing with potential water shortages along the Colorado River. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said he asked the Bureau of Reclamation to start the review at the beginning of 2020, rather than by the end of 2020, which is the deadline under the existing agreement.

Related article:

Aquafornia news U.S. News & World Report

Friday Top of the Scroll: U.S. water chief praises Colorado River deal, sees challenges

States in the U.S. West that have agreed to begin taking less water next month from the drought-stricken Colorado River got praise and a push for more action Thursday from the nation’s top water official. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman told federal, state and local water managers that abiding by the promises they made will be crucial to ensuring that more painful cuts aren’t required.

Related article:

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Review-Journal

Conservation key as decades-long drought continues

U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman said Wednesday that Nevada has been a national leader in water conservation by reducing demand on the Colorado River and investing in infrastructure over the past two decades. In Las Vegas for the Colorado River Water Users Association’s annual conference, Burman declined to say, however, whether she sees Nevada’s share of the river’s water increasing…

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Arizona will soon start getting less water from the Colorado River

Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will start taking less water from the Colorado River in January as a hard-fought set of agreements kicks in to reduce the risk of reservoirs falling to critically low levels. The two U.S. states agreed to leave a portion of their water allotments in Lake Mead under a deal with California called the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan, or DCP…

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Las Vegas groundwater management a success, but overpumping issues loom

Net groundwater pumping peaked in 1968 at 86,000 acre-feet and started to go down in the 1980s, ’90s and 2000s, according to the state’s 2018 groundwater pumpage inventory for the aquifer. Thanks to the water authority’s efforts to reduce pumping, only 10% of the water used in the valley now comes from groundwater, while the rest comes from Lake Mead, Mack said.

Aquafornia news Grist.org

Politicians knew the inconvenient truth about the Colorado River 100 years ago — and ignored it

As conventional wisdom has it, the states were relying on bad data when they divided up the water. But a new book challenges that narrative. Turn-of-the-century hydrologists actually had a pretty good idea of how much water the river could spare, water experts John Fleck and Eric Kuhn write in Science be Dammed: How Ignoring Inconvenient Science Drained the Colorado River. They make the case that politicians and water managers in the early 1900s ignored evidence about the limits of the river’s resources.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Arizona tribes oppose plan to dam Colorado River tributary

Native American tribes, environmentalists, state and federal agencies, river rafters and others say they have significant concerns about proposals to dam a Colorado River tributary in northern Arizona for hydropower.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Projects propose new reservoirs, cycling water from Nevada’s desert lakes, with hopes of selling power to LA

During days when solar panels feed more energy into the grid than utilities want to buy, the projects would use the excess power to pump water from Walker Lake or Pyramid Lake into the newly constructed reservoirs. Once there, the water would sit as a giant pool of potential energy. When demand for power increased at night as solar production waned, the water could be released downhill and run through a power plant.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Water scarcity in Nevada hits ‘critical mass’

Nevada’s director of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said Nevada has already reached the point of “critical mass” or the breaking point when it comes to the problem of water scarcity. … “We are up against that much strain in our water resources across the state,” Director Brad Crowell said.

Aquafornia news KUNC

New analysis spells out serious legal risk to Colorado River water users

Ambiguity exists in the language of the river’s foundational document, the Colorado River Compact. That agreement’s language remains unclear on whether Upper Basin states, where the Colorado River originates, are legally obligated to deliver a certain amount of water over a 10-year period to those in the Lower Basin: Arizona, California, and Nevada.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Water authority would pay $30 million to Raiders under proposed decade-long advertising contract for water conservation

The Southern Nevada Water Authority is proposing a 10-year marketing deal with the future Las Vegas Raiders that will pay the NFL franchise more than $30 million in tax dollars over the next decade, enabling the agency to use team logos and place advertising in the $1.9 billion Allegiant Stadium.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Water district linked to developer will consider reforms after eminent domain action revealed web of conflicts

After blurring the line between a private and public utility for nearly two decades, the water district that serves the world’s largest industrial park is looking to part ways with a developer. That action comes after The Nevada Independent reported this month that the public water district … is operated by a private entity and governed by three board members who report income from companies connected to Lance Gilman, the face of the industrial park. The board members also reside at Gilman’s brothel, the Mustang Ranch.

Aquafornia news KUNC

New analysis spells out serious legal risk to Colorado River water users

Declining flows could force Southwest water managers to confront long-standing legal uncertainties, and threaten the water security of Upper Basin states of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico.

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Blog: ‘Science Be Dammed’: Learning from history’s mistake on the Colorado River

The problem in the 1920s was neither the lack of good science nor the inability of decision-makers to understand the basin’s hydrology. … In an era driven by politics of competition for a limited supply of river water and federal dollars, those decision-makers had the opportunity to selectively use the available science as a tool to sell their projects and vision for the river’s future to Congress and the general public.

Aquafornia news KUNR

Audio: What’s in the water?

In this episode, we explore a carcinogen called 1,2,3 Tetracholorpropane, which ended up in the water below California’s Central Valley. … We also hear from John Hadder and Dr. Glenn Miller, with Great Basin Resource Watch, about how some of the groundwater in Nevada became contaminated due to mining operations near Yerington.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Opinion: As the Vegas pipeline fight persists, remember Owens Valley

The Southern Nevada Water Authority’s Las Vegas water grab and pipeline –– which has been in various stages of development since 1989 –– would forever tarnish public lands and waters in Eastern Nevada and Western Utah. The idea is a direct descendant to the Los Angeles Aqueduct.

Aquafornia news KUNC

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Historically left out, Colorado River tribes call for more sway in Western water talks

Arizona’s portion of the Drought Contingency Plan became a unique example in the basin of tribal leaders asserting themselves in broader discussions about the river’s management. … With the drought plan done, some tribal leaders say their water rights can’t be ignored any longer.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: New paper with Anne Castle on risk of Colorado River curtailments in Colorado, Upper Basin

Here’s the nut: Water supply in the Colorado River could drop so far in the next decade that the ability of the Upper Colorado River Basin states – Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico – to meet their legal obligations to downstream users in Nevada, Arizona, California, and Mexico would be in grave jeopardy.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Nevada tribes oppose removal of American Indian site history document

The Goshute, Ely and Duckwater Shoshone tribes all consider the site, known as the swamp cedars, sacred and believe the trees are threatened by a proposal to pipe groundwater to Las Vegas. … Tribal members are pushing for greater recognition of the site in order to strengthen their case against Southern Nevada Water Authority’s proposal to pipe groundwater from the area to Las Vegas. 

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Study: Climate change and drought killing off Mojave Desert birds

Shrinking water resources due to climate change are driving major declines in Mojave Desert bird populations, according to a new study from researchers at University of California, Berkeley.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

For years, a public water district blurred the line between business and government — with a developer’s brothel workers at the helm

Officials who oversee a water district exempt from state regulation work and live at a brothel owned by the public face of the world’s largest industrial park, raising questions about whether governmental powers such as eminent domain are being wielded by a private entity.

Aquafornia news Environmental Defense Fund

Blog: Colorado River Basin story map highlights importance of managing water below the ground

EDF created an online story map … to provide a more holistic view of groundwater supplies and challenges in the seven-state Colorado River Basin (Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming), drawing from recent research. Here are four key highlights from the story map that demonstrate the importance of groundwater and the challenges of groundwater management in the arid West:

Aquafornia news U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Blog: Back after more than a century

Almost 50 years after the Lahontan cutthroat trout was listed under the Endangered Species Act, agencies are investing in a game-changing, fish-friendly infrastructure project at Derby Dam to help bring back the legendary fish to the Truckee River. Announced on Sept. 11, 2019, construction of a fish passage structure will allow Lahontan cutthroat trout to complete their natural migration, swimming back and forth between Pyramid Lake and historic spawning grounds.

Aquafornia news The Guardian

The lost river: Mexicans fight for mighty waterway taken by the U.S.

The Colorado River serves over 35 million Americans before reaching Mexico – but it is dammed at the border, leaving locals on the other side with a dry delta.

Aquafornia news Arizona Capitol Times

Opinion: Next step? Make AZ a strong voice among Colorado River states

We now have an opportunity to build on the successful Arizona process that led to the DCP signing. Arizona is stronger together. And that will serve us well as we work toward the next step – maintaining a stable, healthy Colorado River system as we face a hotter and drier future.

Aquafornia news The Salt Lake Tribune

Eco-groups sue feds, allege Glen Canyon Dam plan ignores climate change

Lake Powell’s long decline may be on hiatus after this year’s snowy winter, but activists still are raising concerns that climate change could render Glen Canyon Dam inoperable. This time, they are taking their concerns to court, asking a federal judge to invalidate the federal Bureau of Reclamation’s 20-year operating plan for the towering dam..

Aquafornia news Nevada Public Radio

Audio: How is climate change impacting Reno’s Truckee River?

As populations in the West rise, managers of our precious water supplies have to figure out how to deal with increasing demand in the midst of climate change. In Southern Nevada, we rely on the Colorado River. But the Truckee River is the lifeline in Northern Nevada, and climate change is affecting them in a much different way.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: More Colorado River “grand bargain” buzz

There was more buzz this week at two big Colorado River Basin events about the idea of a “grand bargain” to deal with coming collisions between water overallocation and the Law of the River.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

Las Vegas water use has dropped, but its affluent residents remain copious consumers

Total and per-capita water use in Southern Nevada has declined over the last decade, even as the region’s population has increased by 14%. But water use among the biggest water users — some of the valley’s wealthiest, most prominent residents — has held steady.

Aquafornia news Circle of Blue

Study: Inadequate groundwater for current and potential demands in basin targeted by Las Vegas

There is not enough water to support important wetlands and springs in a semi-arid desert ecosystem that straddles the Nevada-Utah border if all permitted and proposed groundwater rights are put to use, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study of the Snake Valley. There also may not be enough groundwater to satisfy the desires of the Las Vegas area, whose water agencies have eyed the valley for decades…

Aquafornia news Civil Eats

As water sources dry up, Arizona farmers feel the heat of climate change

Farms in central Arizona will soon lose access to Colorado River water, impacting farmers, cities, and Native communities.

Aquafornia news Western Water

Friday Top of the Scroll: Could “black swan” events spawned by climate change wreak havoc in the Colorado River Basin?

The Colorado River Basin’s 20 years of drought and the dramatic decline in water levels at the river’s key reservoirs have pressed water managers to adapt to challenging conditions. But even more extreme — albeit rare — droughts or floods that could overwhelm water managers may lie ahead in the Basin as the effects of climate change take hold, say a group of scientists.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: All I want is an accurate Colorado River map

I’ve spent half a day tormented by a problem that has already tormented me many times before in my career: Where can one find a Colorado River Basin map that is accurate? It seems like such a simple task, but as others have noted before, it is an ongoing problem. The list of problem areas is long, and many seem to have a strong political motivation.

Aquafornia news Fox News

Farmers concerned over how mandatory water cuts from Colorado River will impact agriculture

Nevada and Arizona, concerned that a 20-year drought has dried up much of the river, are trying to rein in water use in an effort to save the disappearing river. The river’s water levels next year are projected to be just below the threshold of 1,090 feet laid out in the Drought Contingency Plan that was signed earlier this year…

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

County sales tax for water projects is extended indefinitely

A quarter-cent sales tax raising $100 million annually for water and wastewater projects will remain in place indefinitely following a decision Tuesday by the Clark County Commission. … The 6-1 vote removes a sunset clause that would have made the tax expire in 2025.

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Colorado River: The West’s precious, but limited resource

Water users in the Colorado River Basin have survived the drought through a combination of water storage infrastructure and voluntary actions to protect reservoir storage and water supply. Adoption of drought contingency plans this summer, developed over years of collaborative negotiation, takes the next step by implementing mandatory action to reduce risk and protect limited water supplies.

Aquafornia news One Truckee River

Blog: The importance of Pyramid Lake water quality

There are a lot of reasons our watershed is unique. It’s a high elevation terminal watershed, what could be more special? Well, another contributing factor is that the terminus of the Truckee River watershed exists on the largest Native American Reservation in Nevada.

Aquafornia news Arizona State University

Blog: ASU water policy expert addresses new drought plan for state

ASU Now spoke to Sarah Porter, director of the Kyl Center for Water Policy at ASU’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy, about the cutbacks and what they will mean for Arizona’s agriculture and the state’s roughly 7 million residents.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Environmental groups argue lands bill will exempt Las Vegas water pipeline from judicial review

Environmental groups are raising concerns over a provision in draft legislation they believe could exempt the Las Vegas pipeline — a proposal to pump eastern Nevada groundwater about 300 miles to Southern Nevada — from further litigation and federal environmental review.

Aquafornia news ColoradoPolitics.com

Salt impacting water quality throughout the West, but a ‘grand deal’ has improved it

The Colorado is the most significant water supply source in the West, but it carries an annual salt load of nine to 10 million tons, said Don Barnett, executive director of the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Forum. … For the past 40 years, the the forum has been “silently working away” at improving water quality and lowering salt content on the Colorado, which supplies water to 40 million people in seven states and Mexico.

Aquafornia news Denver Post

Colorado River water rights debated as climate change depletes supply

Rocky Mountain water managers worried about climate-driven depletion across the Colorado River Basin are mulling a “grand bargain” that would overhaul obligations among seven southwestern states for sharing the river’s water. This reflects rising concerns that dry times could turn disastrous.

Related article:

Aquafornia news KJZZ

Audio: Months after completing the drought contingency plan, we have to use it

Just a few months after completing the Drought Contingency Plan for the Colorado River states, water managers in the southwest will likely have to implement it starting in 2020. That’s according to new projections for the levels of key reservoirs in the southwestern river basin, and Arizona is first in line to take water cutbacks.

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Arizona, Nevada cuts to Colorado River water negligible

Arizona and Nevada will face their first-ever cuts in Colorado River water next year, but the changes aren’t expected to be overly burdensome for either state.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Friday Top of the Scroll: First-ever mandatory water cutbacks will kick in next year along the Colorado River

Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will be required to take less water from the Colorado River for the first time next year under a set of agreements that aim to keep enough water in Lake Mead to reduce the risk of a crash.

Related articles:

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wet winter doesn’t end climate change risk to Colorado River

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation on Thursday will release its projections for next year’s supply from Lake Mead, a key reservoir that feeds Colorado River water to Nevada, Arizona, California and Mexico. After a wet winter, the agency is not expected to require any states to take cuts to their share of water. But that doesn’t mean conditions are improving long term.

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Aquafornia news Bloomberg

Desert farmers trade water for cash as the Colorado River falls

With big western cities clamoring for a share of the river’s diminishing supply, desert farmers with valuable claims are making multimillion dollar deals in a bid to delay the inevitable. … But if the river’s water keeps falling, more radical measures will be needed to protect what remains. 

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: Planning for a drier future in the Colorado River Basin

The recently adopted Drought Contingency Plan (DCP) was an important step toward addressing the Colorado Basin’s chronic water shortages, but more work is needed to prepare for a hotter, drier future. We talked to Doug Kenney, director of the Western Water Policy Program at the University of Colorado and a member of the PPIC Water Policy Center research network, about managing the basin for long-term water sustainability.

Aquafornia news National Geographic

Megadroughts could return to southwestern U.S.

Described in a comprehensive new study published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, scientists now understand the causes of the megadroughts common during the medieval period. With climate change, they predict more megadroughts in the future.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Nevada’s Walker Lake could be ‘great restoration story of the West’

On July 5, for the first time since Europeans settled the remote and scenic Walker Basin, there’s water flowing through the Walker River exclusively for the benefit of the lake’s fish and wildlife.

Aquafornia news KUNC

As Southwest water managers grapple with climate change, can a ‘grand bargain’ work?

Water managers on the Colorado River are facing a unique moment. With a temporary fix to the river’s scarcity problem recently completed, talk has begun to turn toward future agreements to manage the water source for 40 million people in the southwestern U.S. … Some within the basin see a window of opportunity to argue for big, bold actions to find balance in the watershed.

Aquafornia news Arizona Daily Star

Opinion: Drought contingency plans embrace water marketing

The state drought plans move gingerly toward encouraging transfers of water by using clever euphemisms that avoid any mention of water marketing. … These euphemisms are tools that usher in a new frontier in western water law that will increase resilience in the face of droughts, floods and forest fires fueled by climate change.

Aquafornia news Photographic Museum of Humanity

The illusion of limitless water

In black and white, John Trotter documents the use of water from the Colorado River, tackling the social, political, and environmental impact of the way it’s dealt with. Spanning over years and kilometres, his ongoing essay is a dire political outcry.

Aquafornia news The Conversation

Blog: Western states buy time with a 7-year Colorado River drought plan, but face a hotter, drier future

The plan is historic: It acknowledges that southwestern states need to make deep water use reductions – including a large share from agriculture, which uses over 70% of the supply – to prevent Colorado River reservoirs from declining to critically low levels. But it also has serious shortcomings. It runs for less than a decade. And its name suggests a response to a temporary problem.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: New USBR modeling shows substantial reduction in Mead, Powell risk over the next five years

The unusually wet winter (with an assist from new Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan water reduction rules) has substantially reduced the near-term scare-the-crap-out-of-me risks on the Colorado River for the next few years, according to new Bureau of Reclamation modeling.

Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

Even after a rush of snow and rain, the thirsty Colorado River Basin is “not out of the woods yet”

It will take as many as 13 water years exactly like this one to erase the impacts of long-term drought in the West, Colorado River District engineers say.

Related article:

Aquafornia news The Colorado Sun

Even after a rush of snow and rain, the thirsty Colorado River Basin is “not out of the woods yet”

In the long-term puzzle of ensuring that the Colorado River — the main artery of the American West — provides water to the millions of people in the basin who depend on it, the challenges are mounting. Does 2019’s water stand a chance of making a meaningful impact? Water experts say the answer is: Sadly, not likely.

Related article:

Aquafornia news KJZZ

Lower Colorado River Basin can still expect shortage next year

The Lower Basin will not drop into a Tier One shortage next year because Lake Mead will almost certainly remain above 1,075 feet in elevation. At the same time, Mead will likely remain under 1,090 feet. That triggers a Tier Zero shortage. “Under Tier Zero conditions, Arizona takes a reduction of 192,000 acre-feet in its annual Colorado River entitlement,” said Suzanne Ticknor, assistant general manager at the Central Arizona Project.

Aquafornia news Denver Post

Colorado’s Yampa River symbol of competing waters rights demands

Leaving more water in the Colorado River Basin could help rivers resume their natural role. But amid this push for upper basin residents to use less, Colorado’s booming Front Range economy is driving cities in the opposite direction: of manipulating rivers more by installing new dams, reservoirs and diversions.

Aquafornia news Las Vegas Sun

New agreement cuts water usage further if Colorado River levels keep dropping

The Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan, divided into plans for the river’s upper and lower basins, is the product of years of interstate negotiations, business transactions and political dealings. What, though, does it mean for Nevada and other Western states as a whole?

Aquafornia news Associated Press

Wednesday Top of the Scroll: Utah, other states urge California to sign 7-state drought plan for Colorado River

Most of the seven states that get water from the Colorado River have signed off on plans to keep the waterway from crashing amid a prolonged drought, climate change and increased demands. But California and Arizona have not, missing deadlines from the federal government.

Related article:

Aquafornia news St. George News

Water officials tout Colorado River as reliable source of water for years to come

The question of whether the Colorado River system is a reliable source of water for the future was the topic of a presentation held at the Washington County Water Conservancy District on Thursday. … Utah is entitled to 23%, or about 1.4 million acre feet under the compact. Utah currently uses 1 million acre feet, Millis said. This leaves the state with 400,000 acre feet to left to develop.

Aquafornia news Grand Junction Sentinel

Opinion: ‘Black Swan’ water planning in the Colorado River Basin

The states that share the river completed a drought plan earlier this year that brings them closer to living within currently available supplies, and a new round of negotiations on long-term management of the river is due to begin next year. However, a new report warns that planning for gradually declining water supplies, as difficult as that is, may not be enough to adequately prepare for the future.

Aquafornia news The Revelator

Blog: The Colorado River’s biggest challenge looms

States that share the river’s water finalized a big agreement last month, but an even larger challenge determining the river’s future is just around the bend, expert John Fleck explains.

Aquafornia news Inkstain.net

Blog: John Wesley Powell at 150: How can we tell better stories?

Rather than unquestioningly celebrating Powell and his legacy, this year gives us the chance to think about a couple of points: First, how are we telling Powell’s story now, and how have we told it in the past? Is it, and has it been, accurate and useful? Second, whose stories have we excluded, ignored, and forgotten about in the focus on Powell?

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Rural Nevadans unite with environmentalists over water bill fears

Nevada ranchers, environmental groups and American Indian tribes are sounding the alarm over legislation they say could drain the water supply from rural areas throughout the state. They’re worried about Assembly Bill 30 in the Nevada Legislature after negotiations over arcane language in the bill broke down in recent days.

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Aquafornia news Inkstain

Blog: What the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan means in practice

I ran down a quick summary this morning of the relevant data, comparing recent use with the cuts mandated under the DCP. It shows that, at this first tier of shortage, permitted use is less than the voluntary cuts water users have been making since 2015. In other words, all of the states are already using less water than contemplated in this first tier of DCP reductions.

Aquafornia news Arizona Republic

Tuesday Top of the Scroll: Colorado River deal: As states sign, long-term challenges remain

The Colorado River just got a boost that’s likely to prevent its depleted reservoirs from bottoming out, at least for the next several years. Representatives of seven Western states and the federal government signed a landmark deal on Monday laying out potential cuts in water deliveries through 2026 to reduce the risks of the river’s reservoirs hitting critically low levels.

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Aquafornia news Grand Junction Sentinel

Opinion: One good year does not end a drought

It takes more than one wet year to not only refill reservoirs but also recharge aquifers and return moisture in parched soils to normal levels. … All this upstream snowpack and rain is predicted to boost Powell to 47% of capacity by the end of the year, another three or four feet, but there’ll still be plenty of the “bathtub ring” visible. It’s been 36 years since Powell was full. It’s not likely it’ll ever fill again.

Aquafornia news The Washington Post

Opinion: We were warned 150 years ago about our water shortage. We have to do better

The Colorado River — of which the Green is the biggest tributary — is the main water source for 40 million people. It’s already overallocated, and climate change is predicted to shrink flows by up to 50 percent by the end of the century. We’re finally coming to grips with those forecasts and beginning to heed Powell’s century-and-a-half-old warnings. But it’s taken drought and desperation to get us there, and we have to do better.

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

The Drought Contingency Plan is done. Now what?

After months of tense, difficult negotiations, a plan to spread the effects of anticipated cutbacks on the drought-stricken Colorado River is nearing completion. On Monday, representatives of the seven states that rely on the river will gather for a formal signing ceremony at Hoover Dam, the real and symbolic center of the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

As Nevada legislators weigh changes to water law, litigation and the pipeline loom

In the ceaseless conflict over how to use the state’s available water — and maybe then some — a varied group of water users and lawmakers sang a refrain older than Nevada: “Everyone is going to court in the end.” … The ghosts of litigation — past, present and future — loomed over the Thursday Senate Natural Resources Committee hearing that stretched until 8 p.m. and offered insight into why it’s so difficult to update Nevada water law.

Aquafornia news Water Education Foundation

Latest Western Water News looks at challenges ahead in next round of Colorado River talks

Stakeholders throughout the Colorado River Basin just wrapped up arduous negotiations on a drought plan. There’s little time to rest, however. Stakeholders are expected to begin the even more difficult task of hammering out sweeping new guidelines for delivering water and sharing shortages that could re-imagine how the overworked river is managed.

Aquafornia news Arizona Capitol Times

Opinion: Latinos rely heavily on Colorado River water amid plans for cutbacks

This river provides water for one-third of Latinos in the United States. Latinos make up the bulk of agricultural workers harvesting the produce this river waters. We boat, fish, swim and recreate along its banks. We hold baptisms in its waters. Therefore, it is critical to engage the growing Latino population on water-smart solutions.

Aquafornia news Public Policy Institute of California

Blog: What does the Colorado River drought plan mean for California?

The DCP … provides assurance against curtailments for water stored behind Hoover Dam. This is especially important for the Southern California water agencies, whose ability to store water in Lake Mead is crucial for managing seasonal demands. Some significant challenges must still be addressed, however.

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Aquafornia news Western Water News

Friday Top of the Scroll: With drought plan in place, Colorado River stakeholders face even tougher talks ahead on river’s future

Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict. … But as the time for crafting a new set of rules draws near, some river veterans suggest the result will be nothing less than a dramatic re-imagining of how the overworked Colorado River is managed…

With Drought Plan in Place, Colorado River Stakeholders Face Even Tougher Talks Ahead On The River’s Future
WESTERN WATER IN-DEPTH: Talks are about to begin on a potentially sweeping agreement that could reimagine how the Colorado River is managed

Lake Mead, behind Hoover Dam, shows the effects of nearly two decades of drought. Even as stakeholders in the Colorado River Basin celebrate the recent completion of an unprecedented drought plan intended to stave off a crashing Lake Mead, there is little time to rest. An even larger hurdle lies ahead as they prepare to hammer out the next set of rules that could vastly reshape the river’s future.

Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict.

Aquafornia news Mohave Valley Daily News

Bureau of Reclamation projects Lake Mead to stay above shortage trigger

According to the Bureau of Reclamation, the snowpack in the Upper Basin is nearly 140% above average as of April 15 and it forecasts that seasonal inflow to Lake Powell will be at 128% of average. … “These developments may lessen the chance of shortage in 2020,” Terry Fulp, BOR’s Lower Colorado regional director, said in a prepared statement.

Aquafornia news Aspen Journalism

Checking the water jug that is Lake Powell

The giant reservoir, formed by Glen Canyon Dam, was under 40 percent full the last week of April. And a lot of water is still being released from the reservoir, more demands on the water are expected, and the water supply above the reservoir, in the sprawling Colorado River system, is expected to decrease.

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Aquafornia news Western Water

With Colorado River drought plan in place, stakeholders face even tougher talks ahead on river’s future

Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multi‐year drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict. But as the time for crafting a new set of rules draws near, some river veterans suggest the result will be nothing less than a dramatic re-imagining of how the overworked Colorado River is managed…

Aquafornia news The Hill

Opinion: Water is an economic issue, not just an environmental issue

DCP puts safeguards in place to help manage water use now and better deal with a potential shortage. Utah, Arizona and the five other Colorado River basin states wisely chose to include conservation measures in the DCP — and shared in their sacrifice to avoid costly litigation and imposed cuts. Congress and the states should be commended for this bipartisan, collaborative process.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Colorado River: NEPA looms over drought plan enthusiasm

Some lawyers say the Drought Contingency Plan, or DCP, may be built on shaky legal ground and could be vulnerable to litigation — depending on how the Bureau of Reclamation implements it. One California water district has already sued to block it.

Aquafornia news Reno Gazette Journal

Fixing Swan Lake’s ‘nightmare’ flooding in Reno won’t be cheap or easy

Tracy Hall says she’s lucky to have friendly neighbors who allow her to live in an RV on their property while water laps at a temporary barrier on the edge of her property. But Hall and others are tired of the disruption to their lives that started more than two years ago when the formerly dry lake in Lemmon Valley filled with stormwater runoff and urban effluent.

Aquafornia news The Nevada Independent

Federal official blocks water for Walker Lake restoration, conservation group alleges

A federal official is attempting to “obstruct” the flow of water to restore habitat at Walker Lake, the conservancy responsible for administering federal restoration funds alleged in District Court last week. After years of litigation, lawyers for the Walker Basin Conservancy said that “at some point, the court must put a stop to the federal water master’s obstruction.” The receding desert lake outside of Hawthorne is fed by the Walker River, which rises in California and snakes through Western Nevada.

Aquafornia news San Francisco Chronicle

How an ‘unripe snowpack’ will impact Lake Tahoe this summer

For the third year in a row, Lake Tahoe is expected to fill. This is noteworthy for the sixth-largest lake in the United States that flirted with record-low levels amid a five-year drought that ended in 2017.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Friday Top of the Scroll: Secretive ‘harbor master’ steers Colorado River campaign

The Colorado River Sustainability Campaign has been an important behind-the-scenes player for environmentalists working on the waterway, which provides water to 40 million people. … When asked who funds his project, Sam Tucker listed five foundations. Those foundations’ grant databases showed that his campaign has received at least $8.6 million since 2016. … Almost half — $4 million — of the campaign’s money came from one source: the Walton Family Foundation. (Second of two parts.)

Aquafornia news Capitol Media Services

Arizona’s top water official not worried yet about lawsuit involving drought plan

Arizona’s top water official says a lawsuit filed Tuesday by California’s Imperial Irrigation District could pose a threat to the newly approved multistate drought contingency plan. But Tom Buschatzke, director of the Department of Water Resources, said he’s not worried the plan will fall apart — at least not yet.

Aquafornia news Grist.org

What drought? These states are gearing up to draw more water from the Colorado

There are at least six high-profile projects in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming that combined could divert more than 300,000 acre-feet of water from the beleaguered Colorado River. That’s the equivalent of Nevada’s entire allocation from the river. These projects are in different stages of permitting and funding, but are moving ahead even as headlines about the river’s dwindling supply dominate the news.

Aquafornia news E&E News

Thursday Top of the Scroll: Colorado River’s biggest champion: Walmart heirs

An unlikely advocate seems to be around every bend of the Colorado River these days: the Walton Family Foundation. The $3.65 billion organization launched by Walmart founder Sam Walton has become ubiquitous in the seven-state basin that provides water to 40 million people, dishing out $100 million in grants in the last five years alone. … The foundation’s reach is dizzying and, outside the basin, has received scant attention. (First of two parts.)

Aquafornia news The Desert Sun

IID sues to halt Colorado River drought plan, says officials ignored Salton Sea

The petition, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleges violations of the California Environmental Quality Act by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and names the Coachella Valley, Palo Verde and Needles water districts as well. It asks the court to suspend the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan until a thorough environmental analysis has been completed.

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