[T]he decades-long effort to remove four hydroelectric dams
that clog the upper Klamath River should be seen not simply
through an environmental and economic lens but also a social
justice one, according to Craig Tucker, a natural resources
consultant for the Karuk Tribe.
Pascua Yaqui Council members called it “a blessing” Tuesday.
They were talking about $900,000 in federal funds that will be
used to bring water to the tribe’s lands for irrigation, the
first fruits of a successful effort last year by members of the
state’s congressional delegation to win $150 million in federal
funding for water projects around the state. … The money
comes from an Army Corps of Engineers fund dedicated to water
infrastructure projects in Arizona. Under the bill, local
governments can enter into agreements with the corps for water,
wastewater treatment, environmental restoration and other
Guardians of the River, produced by American
Rivers and Swiftwater Films, focuses on the hard-won
efforts of leaders of the Yuroks. Frankie Joe Myers, vice
chair of the tribe; Sammy Gensaw, director of
the Ancestral Guard; Barry McCovey, fisheries
biologist with the tribe; and members of the Ancestral
Guard and Klamath Justice Coalition share why removing
four dams across southern Oregon and Northern California is
vital to restoring clean water, food
sovereignty, and justice for the Klamath River.
The Trinidad City Council on Tuesday will consider whether to
participate in a feasibility study for a project that would
bring a steady flow of water to the city from the Mad River via
a new pipeline. The Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District
(HBMWD), which supplies water to Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville,
Blue Lake and other area communities, is in the early stages of
researching the possibility of expanding its service area north
via a waterline extension at least as far north as the Trinidad
In Oregon, the Klamath Basin wildlife refuges have fallen into
their winter silence now. The huge, clamorous flocks of geese
that fill the sky during migration have moved south. This
summer, a different silence gripped the basin. A dead silence.
The 90,000 acres of marshes and open water that make up the
Lower Klamath and Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuges are a
small remnant of vast wetlands that once filled this region on
the Oregon-California border. -Written by Pepper Trail, a contributor to Writers on the
Range and a conservation biologist in Ashland, Ore.
California is enveloped in balmy weather that’s more like
spring than mid-winter — and that’s not a good thing. We have
seen only scant rain and snow this winter, indicating that the
state may be experiencing one of its periodic droughts and
adding another layer of crisis to the COVID-19 pandemic and
economic recession. The all-important Sierra snowpack,
California’s primary source of water, is scarcely half of what
is deemed a normal depth. -Written by Dan Walters, CalMatters columnist.
Lorelei Cloud is a member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, a
relatively small tribe of 1,500 members, 1,000 of which live on
the tribe’s reservation covering a little more than 1,000
square miles south of Durango abutting the border with New
Mexico. Cloud’s experience is not uncommon in tribal homes
across the country, as nearly 48% of them — representing more
than half a million people — do not have “access to reliable
water sources, clean drinking water or basic sanitation,”
according to a 2017 congressional report.
Three people were appointed Thursday to the California Water
Commission by Gov. Gavin Newsom. The three are Amy Cordalis,
40, of McKinleyville, Kimberly Gallagher, 45, of Davis,
and Fern Steiner, 71, of San Diego.
After years of negotiations and agreements, roadblocks,
renegotiations, and new agreements, dam removal on the Klamath
river is closer than ever to becoming a reality. With almost
all of the bureaucratic hurdles overcome, four of the six dams
on the Klamath are slated to be removed by 2024, restoring fish
access to the entire river. If carried out as planned, it will
be the largest dam removal project in the history of the United
States, opening up 400 river-miles of habitat to
salmon, trout, and eels, for the first time in decades. The
Yurok Tribe and Klamath River Renewal Corporation hope it will
also mean a return to a healthy river…
The Yurok people have lived in the 15,700 square miles Klamath
River Basin, in what is now called Northern California, for
millennia. They are among the key organizers in a coalition of
Indigenous groups, environmentalists, concerned citizens and
commercial fishers that have joined forces in a decades-long
movement to Un-dam the Klamath.
The $227 billion budget proposed on Friday by Gov. Gavin Newsom
includes $4.1 billion in spending on a suite of environmental
initiatives meant to fight climate change, gird California
against devastating wildfires, reduce smog, and bolster the
adoption of clean vehicles on the state’s roads.
Now that the calendar has flipped to January 2021, it’s time to
say goodbye to the mess of the past year, yes? … The
pandemic’s economic dislocation continues to reverberate among
those who lost work. Severe weather boosted by a warming
climate is leaving its mark in the watersheds of the Southwest
[including the Colorado River]. And President-elect Biden will
take office looking to undo much of his predecessor’s legacy of
environmental deregulation while also writing his own narrative
on issues of climate, infrastructure, and social
justice….Litigation over toxic PFAS compounds found in
rivers, lakes, and groundwater is already active. Lawsuits are
likely to continue at a brisk pace…
Even as research touted the benefits of prescribed fire more
than a half-century ago, the practice was long held back by
misguided forest management policies, a legacy of injustice
toward Native Americans and a more nebulous, deep-seated
cultural resistance to flames and smoke. Finally, the tide is
turning — slowly. California took a huge step forward this year
when it reached a landmark deal with the federal government to
reduce fire risk on 1 million acres of forest and wildlands
annually, including through prescribed fire.
A decade ago, a diverse coalition of tribes, farmers and
conservationists hashed out water-sharing settlements that
would have given the [Klamath basin] refuges a steady supply of
water each year, and in the process stopped years of lawsuits,
protests and acrimony. But Congress killed their efforts. Now
the refuges — and Lower Klamath in particular — are at risk of
drying up. And the fighting over water will only continue as
the watershed grows increasingly dry from climate change.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt started off 2020 empowering
his most controversial public lands deputy, a move that a
federal judge later deemed “unlawful.” He’s ending the year in
quarantine, having tested positive for COVID-19. In between
these bleak-sounding bookends, the 51-year-old Bernhardt
rewrote how the Interior Department works. While the results
get mixed reviews, and in some cases may get erased by the
incoming Biden administration, 2020 was undeniably
consequential for the department.
President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Deb Haaland, the
freshman representative from New Mexico, to lead the Interior
Department, making history by selecting the first Native
American to oversee the agency that manages millions of acres
of federal land and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, according to
a person familiar with the decision.
In August, the Hoopa Valley Tribe filed a lawsuit in a
Eureka-based Federal court against the U.S. Department of
Interior to block execution of a permanent repayment contracts
for Central Valley Project users. What’s at stake? Stable water
resources secured by a bevy of other water agencies across the
Golden State by converting short-term water service contracts
into permanent repayment contracts with the United States
Bureau of Reclamation. The suit almost exclusively targets the
powerful Westlands Water District. The problem? The nation’s
largest water district isn’t even a party to the suit, nor is
it the only player involved in contract conversions.
President-elect Joe Biden has tapped Deb Haaland, a Democratic
congresswoman from New Mexico, to serve as the first Native
American interior secretary in a historic pick for a department
that oversees the country’s vast natural resources, including
The Hoopa Valley Tribe in Humboldt County argued before a
federal judge that no Trinity River water can be sent to
the Central Valley at the expense of the tribe’s fishery. The
main dispute is over whether to block the U.S. Department
of Interior from signing permanent water delivery contracts
with Valley agribusiness interests, including Westlands Water
District. Opponents say the real agenda is being driven by
environmental groups that don’t want extra money going towards
water storage projects, and they’re singling out Westlands
because of its name recognition.
The only hope for salmon to return to the Klamath River, which
runs though southern Oregon and northern California before
emptying into the Pacific Ocean, is to remove some of those
river-blocking dams because they have interfered with the
breeding habits of the fish, experts say.
The Hopi have long lacked adequate drinking water. In
parts of the reservation, the water that flows from
taps is contaminated with toxic arsenic
at levels that exceed the federal standard. And
in homes without running water, many families get by using what
little they haul from communal faucets, which can amount to
less than 2 gallons a day per person.
Defending the decision to give farm irrigation districts
permanent access to low-cost, federally pumped water in
California, a Justice Department lawyer urged a federal judge
to flush a Native American tribe’s lawsuit against the endless
entitlements. The Hoopa Valley Tribe sued the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation in August, claiming the Trump administration’s
conversion of 14 time-limited contracts for Central Valley
Project water into permanent deals violated a host of federal
The Colorado River Indian Tribes near Parker is proposing a
federal law to allow it to lease water rights in Arizona, a
move that could aid the state’s response to the drought. The
tribe said in public hearings on Dec. 7 and Dec. 10 that it
would use the money raised from leasing Colorado River water to
bolster services to its members, including for health care,
education, elder programs and law enforcement.
A new national study of public water systems found that arsenic
levels were not uniform across the U.S., even after
implementation of the latest national regulatory standard. In
the first study to assess differences in public drinking water
arsenic exposures by geographic subgroups, researchers at
Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health confirmed
there are inequalities in drinking water arsenic
exposure…. Community water systems reliant on
groundwater, serving smaller populations located in the
Southwest, and Hispanic communities were more likely to
continue exceeding the national maximum containment level,
raising environmental justice concerns.
The Colorado River Indian Tribes are proposing federal
legislation that would allow CRIT to lease a portion of its
first priority Colorado River water rights in Arizona to
outside interests within the state. The Tribe says the
legislation would help drought relief efforts in Arizona while
presenting economic opportunities for tribal members.
The Hopi have lived for thousands of years on the mesas of the
Colorado Plateau. Flowing springs and seeps have sustained
them, providing sources where they have collected drinking
water, grown corn and beans, and maintained a spiritual
connection to life-giving water. But the springs are
dwindling. Some are completely dry.
For many years, leasing water has simply been a “what if”
scenario for the Colorado River Indian Tribes, which unlike
many other tribes in Arizona with water rights, do not
have the ability to lease, exchange or store it underground.
But that could soon change if their proposal makes its way
through Congress. And it could have profound impacts on
how water is bought, sold and moved in this state. -Written by Joanna Allhands, digital opinions editor for
the Arizona Republic.
The West is in a drought that’s only getting worse, and drought
is an even bigger problem in places that have uneven access to
water to start with. In the Navajo Nation, in the southwestern
U.S., many homes have no running water at all. The tribe is
working with the startup Source, which makes Hydropanels —
solar-powered panels that pull water vapor from the air and
condense it into clean drinking water.
Federal and state officials signed nearly 400 treaties with
tribal nations in the 18th and 19th centuries….In recent
years, some courts, political leaders and regulators have
decided it’s time to start honoring those treaty
obligations….“The notion that tribal treaty rights should be
factored into government decision-making is gaining increasing
currency,” [said Riyaz Kanji, a leading Indian law attorney.]
The strength of that argument was on display again last month,
when leaders in Oregon and California announced plans to remove
four dams on the Klamath River.
The West has endured three decades of deepening hardship as
ailing forests, climate change, and unrestrained development
force a reckoning with wildfires gaining in scale and
intensity. Five of the six largest wildfires in California’s
history have occurred this year… A national strategy to
reform wildland fire management … identifies wildfire and
prescribed fire as essential to the resilience of forests,
grasslands, and watersheds.
While Republican members of Congress praised the most recent
step toward approving raising the height of Shasta Dam, fishing
and environmental groups criticized it as the illegal actions
of a “lame duck federal agency.”
By burning and brushing, nurturing important plants and
keeping lands around their homes clear of dead brush and
debris, Native peoples carefully stewarded the lands to sustain
the biodiverse ecologies California is known for. Their
work resulted in a richly productive landscape that provided
food and habitat for not only humans but many land, air and
water animals. That included the salmon, a staple of tribes in
the West for millennia. All that changed when California became
a U.S. state in 1850.
With its Séka Hills olive oil, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation [in
Northern California’s Capay Valley] is reclaiming its ancestral
land with a crop for the future. … Wherever possible, the
tribe uses sustainable farming practices, and has received
several grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s
Natural Resource Conservation Service for water and rangeland
The history of our city is one of oil, land and water scandals,
of genocide and segregation. … Should we change the names of
any buildings, streets or charities bearing the names Chandler,
Huntington, Mulholland or Hellman?
Twenty years ago, the Colorado River’s hydrology began tumbling
into a historically bad stretch. … So key players across
seven states, including California, came together in 2005 to
attack the problem. The result was a set of Interim Guidelines
adopted in 2007… Stressing flexibility instead of rigidity,
the guidelines stabilized water deliveries in a
drought-stressed system and prevented a dreaded shortage
declaration by the federal government that would have forced
water supply cuts.
Karuk Tribe natural resources spokesperson Craig Tucker joined
John Howard to talk about the historic agreement, its impact on
the region’s Salmon fisheries, and the potential for
replication in other places where dams are contested.
The Trump Administration Thursday released the Shasta Lake
Water Resources Investigation Final Supplemental Environmental
Impact Statement to increase water storage capacity in the
Shasta Lake reservoir by 634,000 acre-feet,
On Nov. 17, California, Oregon, PacifiCorp, and the Yurok and
Karuk Tribes announced a new agreement with the Klamath River
Renewal Corporation to reaffirm KRRC’s status as dam removal
entity and provide additional funding for the removal of four
hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River. The agreement is the
latest development in a decade-long effort…
How did two of the most important waterfowl refuges in the
United States reach such a sad state? The decline of the Tule
Lake and Lower Klamath refuges was a hundred years in the
making. There are no villains here; rather it is simply a tale
of too little water to go around on an arid landscape.
America’s largest dam removal project has been brought back to
life with a new agreement among California, Oregon, tribes and
a utility owned by billionaire Warren Buffett. The decadeslong
effort to remove four dams on the Klamath River in Northern
California that have had a devastating impact on salmon runs
had appeared in danger following an unexpected July regulatory
Gov. Gavin Newsom and his Oregon counterpart signed a landmark
deal Tuesday to take control of four aging dams targeted for
removal on the Lower Klamath River, an agreement designed to
push the controversial $450 million plan over the finish line.
… The agreement “ensures that we have sufficient backing” to
get the four dams demolished, said Chuck Bonham, director of
the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Gov. Gavin Newsom and his Oregon counterpart signed a landmark
deal Tuesday to take control of four aging dams targeted for
removal on the Lower Klamath River, an agreement designed to
push the controversial $450 million plan over the finish line.
The U.S. Geological Survey is in the beginning stages of
learning more about this river via an expanded and more
sophisticated monitoring system that aims to study details
about the snowpack that feeds the river basin, droughts and
flooding, and how streamflow supports groundwater, or vice
The last three administrations have been active in Klamath
Basin issues regardless of political party. Negotiations for a
basin-wide agreement began under the Bush Administration and
continued under the Obama Administration until faltering in the
House of Representatives — though each president’s approach has
varied. Dan Keppen, executive director of the Family Farm
Alliance, said Biden’s experience in the Obama Administration
could prove an asset, if he brings a similar approach.
For over a century, one of the most important salmon runs in
the United States has had to contend with historic dams – and
now four of them are set to be taken down….The dams built on
the Klamath River have been identified as one cause of the
drop in salmon numbers.
A 2007 deal creating guidelines governing how Lake Powell and
Lake Mead are operated in coordination isn’t scheduled to
expire until 2026. But water officials in Colorado River Basin
states are already beginning to talk about the renegotiations
that will be undertaken to decide what succeeds the 2007
Why are our food producers, including many century-old family
farms with 100-year-old water rights, facing a shortage of
water? Because we drain Oregon’s largest lake to artificially
increase water supply in California.
Managing water resources in the Colorado River Basin is not for
the timid or those unaccustomed to big challenges. … For more
than 30 years, Terry Fulp, director of the Bureau of
Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Basin Region, has been in the
thick of it, applying his knowledge, expertise and calm
demeanor to inform and broker key decisions that have helped
stabilize the Southwest’s major water artery.
Members of local tribes, fishermen and conservationists are
calling on Warren Buffett to undam the Klamath. People across
the country joined members of the Karuk, Yurok, Klamath and
Hoopa Valley tribes on Friday for a day of action to get the
attention of Buffett, the owner of Pacific Power and the
Klamath River dams…
Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approved
applications to develop water quality standards by the Cabazon
Band of Mission Indians, the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck
Valley Indian Reservation, Karuk Tribe, Quartz Valley Indian
Reservation, San Carlos Apache Tribe, and Yerington Paiute
Tribe. This decision comes in the form of approvals of requests
by the tribes for “treatment in a similar manner as a state”
(TAS) under the federal Clean Water Act.
With California’s worst wildfire season on record still raging,
experts from across the state are calling for a $2 billion
investment in the next year on prevention tactics like
prescribed burns and more year-round forest management
Virtual rallies will be held Friday at the utility’s
headquarters in Portland and in Buffett’s hometown of Omaha,
Neb., according to a Save California Salmon news release. A
rally will also be held in Seattle, home of the Bill and
Melinda Gates Foundation, the top shareholder in Buffett’s
Berkshire Hathaway conglomerate. Berkshire Hathaway Energy is
PacifiCorp’s parent company.
House Natural Resources Committee ranking member Rob Bishop
wants the House to fast-track legislation that would pave the
way for hundreds of millions of dollars for water and
sanitation development across Indian Country.
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
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.
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.
The day after Congress passed a bill that included potential
consequences to PacifiCorp if it reneged on an agreement to
remove four Klamath River dams, the Yurok Tribe’s senior water
policy analyst urged people to “make noise in anyway that you
The Klamath Basin used to be the third most important
salmon-bearing watershed in the Pacific Northwest. Now, only a
fraction of those runs remain. The multiple reasons for their
decline are complex and interconnected, but they all have to do
with how water moves through the system.
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
Practically every drop of water that flows through the meadows,
canyons and plains of the Colorado River Basin has reams of
science attached to it. Our latest article in Western
Water news examines a new report that synthesizes and
provides context for that science and could aid water managers
as they prepare to rewrite the operating rules for a river
system so vital to the Southwestern United States and Mexico.
A crisis could be approaching. The two giant reservoirs on the
Colorado River are both below 50 percent of capacity. If
drought causes even more drastic drops, the Bureau of
Reclamation could step in to prioritize the making of
electricity by the hydro plants at lakes Mead and Powell. No
one knows what BuRec would do, but it would call the shots and
end current arrangements.
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.
In 2010, tribes joined the company that owns the dams and other
stakeholders in an agreement to remove the dams in 2020. The
plan was later delayed to 2022, and now it may stall again
because of a recent decision by federal regulators.
The organizers of the Advocacy and Water Protection in Native
California Speakers Series are hosting a new webinar series
aimed at taking action against environmental racism and for
water justice in California. Humboldt State University Native
American Studies and Save California Salmon are organizing the
“Mobilizing for Water Justice in California” Webinar Series on
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
The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians once warned that a
proposed mine would obliterate a sacred site equal to the
Biblical Garden of Eden. Now, the southwest Riverside County
tribe is sounding a similar alarm about the Lake Elsinore
Advanced Pumped Storage Project, or LEAPS, a hydroelectric
project proposed for the Lake Elsinore area.
The written version of remarks delivered by Eric Kuhn at the
Aug. 25 Western Resource Advocates webinar on the Lake Powell
Pipeline, featuring Eric, WRA’s Bart Miller, and Alice Walker,
attorney for the Kaibab Band of Paiute Indians.
Men and women from Native American tribes in Northern
California stood in a circle, alongside university students and
locals from around the town of Mariposa. … For the next two
days, the group would be carefully lighting fires in the
surrounding hills. Also sprinkled through the crowd were
officials from the state government, which a century ago had
largely prohibited California’s tribes from continuing their
ancient practice of controlled burns.
A mobile home park on the Pala Band of Mission Indians
reservation has been ordered by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency to fix problems with its broken drinking
water and sewer systems that may have caused drinking water to
be contaminated with fecal matter and disease-causing
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.
North Coast elected officials rang alarm bells Tuesday around
what the region’s congressional representative called a
“slow-walk” on the removal of four Klamath River dams that have
threatened fish populations and led to pollution.
The hopes of seeing those dams removed, hopes that burned so
bright four years ago when hundreds gathered in Requa near the
river’s mouth to announce a new removal agreement, have dimmed
considerably since a July 16 ruling by the Federal Energy
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.
North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman will lead a live-streamed forum
that will examine the impacts of the Klamath Dams on tribes,
fisheries, the environment and downstream stakeholders on
Tuesday, Aug. 18 at 2 p.m.
The Hoopa Valley Tribe has filed a federal lawsuit to block the
U.S. Department of Interior from signing a water delivery
contract with an agribusiness in the Central Valley, an
agreement which would divert water out of the Trinity River
basin 400 miles away.
FERC concluded that the nonprofit that was going to take
ownership of the dams didn’t have the experience or expertise
to oversee such a complicated project. PacifiCorp therefore
needed to stay on as co-licensee. But if PacifiCorp couldn’t
walk away clean, it lost a huge incentive for removing the dams
at all. It might just as well stick with the status quo.
The decades-long battle over an effort to raise the height of
Shasta Dam took another turn Thursday when the Trump
Administration released a new environmental report on the plan,
just five years after completing a similar study.
Through three governors, California has set a path to tear down
four aging dams on the Klamath River astride the Oregon border.
It would be the biggest such removal project in the nation,
done in the name of fish preservation, clean water flows and
political consensus. But the undertaking is hitting a snag, one
that Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to undo.
A nonprofit that developed low-cost handwashing stations for
the homeless population in California is teaming up with
community nonprofit Red Feather to bring this potentially
life-saving infrastructure to Native American communities.
For us, dam removal is absolutely necessary to restore our
struggling fisheries, maintain cultural practices, and provide
tribal members who struggle to make ends meet access to
traditional subsistence foods.
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
The Bishop Paiute Tribe is experiencing low water pressure
reservation wide due to high water usage and minimal storage
and pumping capacity. … With temperatures rising, and more
community members staying home due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
water usage has gone up significantly.
The Environmental Justice for All Act would amend the Civil
Rights Act to … require federal agencies to consider health
effects that might compound over time when making permitting
decisions under the federal Clean Air and Clean Water acts.
In many respects, the Arizona Water Blueprint – a data-rich,
interactive map of Arizona’s water resources and infrastructure
created by the Kyl Center for Water Policy at Arizona State
University – could not have been rolled out at a better time.
Research into Arizona’s varied sources of water is approaching
an all-time high.
In response to Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt and
Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman’s recent visit with
Klamath Basin ranchers, farmers, tribes and community
officials, Reclamation is launching a new science initiative to
inform Klamath Project operations.
Desperate to complete a historic but complicated dam removal on
the California-Oregon border, Gov. Gavin Newsom has appealed to
one of the world’s wealthiest men to keep the project on track:
financier Warren Buffett. Newsom dispatched a letter to Buffett
and two of his executives Wednesday urging them to support
removal of four hydroelectric dams on the lower Klamath
S. Craig Tucker, consultant to the Karuk Tribe, and Mike
Belchik, senior water policy analyst with the Yurok Tribe,
joins Scott Greacen (Friends of the Eel) and Tom Wheeler (EPIC)
for a spirited discussion on the new news about the state of
After four years of review, FERC granted the transfer of the
license for the J.C. Boyle, Copco No. 1, Copco No. 2 and Iron
Gate dams (collectively known as the Lower Klamath Project) to
the Klamath River Renewal Corporation, a nonprofit that would
carry out the dam removal. But it requires PacifiCorp, the
utility that currently operates the dams, to remain on the
The Karuk Tribe is set to hold its World Renewal Ceremonies in
Six Rivers and Klamath national forests from July through late
September. In honor of these long-standing tribal traditions,
outsiders will be prohibited from entering the water or
launching watercraft during the ceremonies, the U.S. Forest
Service has announced in a press release.
While farmers lauded Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and
Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman’s historic
joint visit to the Klamath Basin on Thursday, area tribes
expressed concern that their perspective on water issues had
not been adequately heard.
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
U.S. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and Bureau of
Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman promised to seek a
resolution to the decades-long water conflicts in the basin
after meeting with growers, local water officials and other
Today, the Yaqui catfish, a whiskery-looking creature that
evolved at least 2 million years ago and was once common enough
for people to catch for food, is functionally extinct in the
United States. There may be a few still hidden in Arizona’s
ponds, but not enough to keep a population alive.
On June 24, 2020, the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of California denied the preliminary
injunctive relief requested by a coalition of fishery and
environmental groups regarding the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s
operations of Shasta Dam and Reservoir, and related temperature
management actions on the upper Sacramento 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.
House Democrats attached a provision to the bill that would
look to introduce additional dam and hydropower safety
inspections and analysis to the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission permitting process. … House Democrats included
various provisions that would boost drinking water protections
and infrastructure, harden water systems against the threat of
climate change, and provide a financial lifeline for tribal
water and wastewater systems.
American Indian tribes in California’s Klamath Basin praised
Monday’s decision by the United States Supreme Court not to
hear the Klamath Project irrigators’ Fifth Amendment water
rights case, Baley v. United States. By not hearing the case,
the Supreme Court upheld the Klamath Tribes’ treaty water
rights as the most senior water rights in the Klamath Basin.
These water rights are critical to protect the tribes’
fisheries and traditional way of life.
Farmers won’t get paid for river water they lost out on during
a drought in southern Oregon, because Native American tribes
have water rights that rank above those of irrigators,
stretching back to “time immemorial” — a ruling the U.S.
Supreme Court refused to disturb on Monday.
A proposal by the Trinidad Rancheria to connect to
McKinleyville’s water system received a mostly chilly reception
from the public during a meeting last week of the Humboldt Bay
Municipal Water District. A majority of more than three dozen
written comments submitted to the district were in opposition
to the pipeline, with many saying they are against the
rancheria’s proposed hotel.
States have grappled in the last two decades with declining
water levels in the basin’s main reservoirs — Mead and Powell —
while reckoning with clear scientific evidence that climate
change is already constricting the iconic river… For water
managers, the steady drop in water consumption in recent years
is a signal that conservation efforts are working and that they
are not helpless in the face of daunting environmental changes.
The Tribe has been working with Sonoma County to develop 147
housing units as well as a resort and winery. Now that this
ongoing development can be performed on land officially held in
trust by the U.S. federal government, the Tribe is no longer
subject to local land use restrictions. As such, the Lytton
Tribe must assess all potential options to best meet future
wastewater needs. Collaboration with their Windsor neighbors as
well as an environmental assessment identified two primary
Lack of running water has long plagued the Navajo Nation. About
a third of homes don’t have it; in some towns, it’s 90 percent.
While several factors contribute to that, many tribal members
say Peabody Energy Corp., the largest U.S. coal producer,
pulled so much water from the Navajo Aquifer before closing its
last mining operation there last August that many wells and
springs have run dry—at a time Covid-19 has hit the Nation
harder than any state.
President Trump’s wall now stretches along 200 miles of
U.S.-Mexico borderland. Progress hasn’t slowed during the
coronavirus pandemic; in some places it’s even accelerating.
But there’s a tiny swath of tribal land on the Colorado River
where that’s not the case.
Having hit a roadblock in negotiations with the City of
Trinidad, the Trinidad Rancheria has turned a beseeching eye
toward the county’s largest water supplier — the Humboldt Bay
Municipal Water District — in hopes of securing a reliable
water source for future development, including a controversial
five-story, 100-room hotel near Cher-Ae Heights Casino.
Colorado is home to the headwaters of the Colorado River and
the water policy decisions made in the Centennial State
reverberate throughout the river’s sprawling basin that
stretches south to Mexico. The stakes are huge in a basin that
serves 40 million people, and responding to the water needs of
the economy, productive agriculture, a robust recreational
industry and environmental protection takes expertise,
leadership and a steady hand. Colorado has that in Becky
Mitchell, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board
Farmers and ranchers in the Klamath Project are breathing a
sigh of relief after the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced
Tuesday it will not further reduce this year’s water allotment,
which is already less than half of demand. … On the other
hand, tribal members that depend on ample salmon runs for their
way of life argue the runs will continue to suffer in warm, low
rivers without enough flow for them to migrate and spawn.
The new rule issued by EPA allows federal agencies to limit the
time frame within which tribes or states are allowed to review
and issue conditions on applicable federal permits to less than
the one-year limit provided for under the CWA. The new rule
also provides that under Section 401, tribes and states are
only able to impose conditions related to “water quality
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
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
As big corporations consume mass amounts of water, the smaller,
local communities near the plants, factories and corporate
offices have fewer resources. Water shortages then become
prevalent as the corporation continues to use up the nearby
sources. … In order to make a meaningful change for smaller
communities, big corporations will need to work on
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.
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.
The National Audubon Society has reached an agreement with the
Arizona Department of Water Resources to help fund the Colorado
River Indian Tribes’ on-going efforts to conserve 150,000
acre-feet of water in Lake Mead over the next three years.
It’s been more than a decade since discussions began about what
would happen to wastewater if the Lytton Tribe were to have
their lands west of town put into federal trust. At its May 20
meeting, the Windsor Town Council voted unanimously to move
forward to the next step, creating an agreement to have the
wastewater treated in the town’s facility.
The Klamath Project, a U.S. government-operated waterworks that
steers runoff from the towering Cascades to more than 200,000
acres of potatoes, alfalfa, wheat, onions and other produce on
both sides of the state line, is running low on supplies. The
local water agencies served by the project say they may not
have water to send to farms beyond next month.
For Indians, confronting economic uncertainty and food
shortages has been part of life since Europeans arrived in our
lands. … This is why the Yurok Tribe is fighting so hard to
remove Klamath River dams and restore the salmon runs that have
fed our people since the beginning of time.
The council will consider a resolution approving an agreement
between the town of Windsor/Windsor Water District and the
Lytton Rancheria of California for the extension and provision
of wastewater services for residential development and
ancillary cultural, community and tribal government facilities
on the land located west of Windsor.
The Trinidad Rancheria is alleging that the City of Trinidad
has failed to work with the tribe to provide water for its
proposed hotel. Because of this the rancheria has informed the
city that a much-anticipated stormwater project will be put on
hold until the dispute is resolved.
The building of a new hotel on the Trinidad Rancheria has
encountered another hurdle as the tribe is now demanding that
the City of Trinidad supply the water necessary to supply the
hotel or else the tribe will withhold required upgrades to a
stormwater management improvement project in Trinidad Harbor,
according to a letter the tribe sent to the City of Trinidad.
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.
A new article by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) calls
efforts to mitigate land subsidence in the Coachella Valley “an
emerging success story,” a finding that is echoed by analysis
completed by local water agencies.
As expected, irrigators in the Klamath Project are getting less
water than they will likely need this summer thanks to a
combination of dry weather and more water being kept in-stream
to protect threatened coho salmon.
The US Drought Monitor update released Thursday morning lists
far Northern California as the most impacted by a lackluster
rain and snow season. Some areas such as Eureka and Mount
Shasta are down more than 15″ of rain from their averages for
the season so far.
Under the drought contingency plan hammered out by Colorado
River Basin states last year, Arizona agreed to voluntarily
reduce its water use by 192,000 acre-feet, or about 7%, leaving
that water in Lake Mead to help reduce the likelihood of
greater cutbacks down the road. Tom Buschatzke, director of the
Arizona Department of Water Resources, says data from a new
Bureau of Reclamation report show that plan is working.
The case was filed in late 2001, the year there was an
announcement that no water would be available for Klamath
Project irrigation from Upper Klamath Lake. The plaintiffs
claim that if the water is taken under the Endangered Species
Act, the fifth amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires
payment of compensation for the water right, a form of
property, that has been taken.
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.
On March 13, 2020, water users in the Klamath Reclamation
Project (Project) petitioned the United States Supreme Court to
review the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Baley,
et al. v. United States, et al. (Baley). The decision denied
the water users’ takings claims for the 2001 Project water
shutoff on water law grounds.
While the virus has attuned the whole country to the idea of
“wash your hands for 20 seconds,” at least 15% of Navajo Nation
homes have no running water at all, according to the official
tribal tally. … The lack of water access has roots in the
history of tribal reservations and federal land use, the
byzantine nature of western water law, and the broader lack of
infrastructure funding for the Navajo Nation, tribal members
and experts said.
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!
Farms and ranches in the Klamath Project will likely have far
less water during the 2020 irrigation season than they did a
year ago, with at least one forecast predicting water supplies
will be less than half of typical demand.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has issued a new three-year
operating plan for the Klamath River, dedicating more water for
endangered salmon while avoiding a “worst case scenario” for
farmers and ranchers. In exchange, a local tribe and fishing
groups agreed to suspend a lawsuit filed against the agency in
The Hoopa Valley Tribe applauded Fresno County Superior Court’s
refusal to validate a proposed contract between Westlands Water
District and the Bureau of Reclamation. … The contract would
have allocated up to 1,150,000 acre-feet of water annually to
Westlands, most of which would be imported from the Trinity
River, which has sustained the Hupa people since time
The Yurok Tribe, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s
Associations, and the Institute for Fisheries Resources …
have successfully obtained a new three-year plan from the
Bureau of Reclamation for operating the Klamath Irrigation
Project to increase springtime flows in the Klamath River.
Here on the largest Native American reservation, one that spans
portions of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, politicians and
health officials are mounting a frantic effort to curb the
spread of the coronavirus. The impact could be especially
devastating, officials fear, in an extremely rural area larger
than West Virginia, with roughly 175,000 residents and only
four inpatient hospitals.
The COVID-19 virus outbreak is affecting us all, whether we
live in a big city or rural Siskiyou County. The economy is
grinding to a halt and governments are planning a massive
response to keep money flowing to small businesses and
employees – the lifeblood of the entire economy. It is through
this lens that I encourage Klamath Basin residents to
view Klamath River Renewal Corp.’s dam removal and river
restoration project as an economic bright spot.
When county Board of Supervisor member Peggy Judd asked former
Gov. Bruce Babbitt to share his thoughts on rural counties
taking on responsibilities relating to groundwater management,
he responded, “I couldn’t say no.”
Many of Arizona’s Native tribes have long-standing claims to
water rights that haven’t yet been settled, and a discussion of
efforts to negotiate possible agreements took center stage at a
meeting of Gov. Doug Ducey’s water council. The meeting grew
tense after Arizona’s top water official gave a presentation on
the status of tribes’ unresolved water claims, and then didn’t
allow leaders of four tribes to speak.
The case, titled Baley v. United States, was filed 19 years ago
when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation re-allocated Klamath River
irrigation water to threatened and endangered species. A
favorable outcome would mean upwards of $30 million
collectively in compensation for irrigators named in the case.
This event 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.
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.”
The message was loud and clear for state water officials at a
public meeting Monday evening in Redding: Don’t send any more
water south through a proposed Delta tunnel project. A group of
more than 100 Native Americans rallied on the lawn of the
Redding Civic Auditorium before they marched into a scoping
meeting held inside the Redding Sheraton Hotel across the
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.
Owens Valley Indian Water Commission is pleased to announce the
Commission awarded the Big Pine Tribe a $100,000 Agriculture
Assistance Grant torepair segments of the Tribe’s irrigation
system to ensure tribal members have access to water for
agricultural and general purposes.
The Four Corners drought of 2017 and 2018 caused $3 billion in
losses and prompted the Navajo Nation to issue an emergency
drought declaration. Now, new research in the Bulletin of the
American Meteorological Society suggests a sizable portion of
the drought’s impacts stemmed from human-caused climate change.
Faced with a deepening water shortage, the Arizona legislature
may try to use casino gaming compacts to pressure tribes into
water settlements. … One of the key targets of the ploy is
the Navajo Nation, with a huge outstanding claim.
The Lake Local Area Formation Commission has approved a
proposal to annex Middletown Rancheria land into the Callayomi
County Water District in order to ensure a safe, reliable
source of water for the tribe’s homes and casino.
In the early days, these pot farms were small and scattered.
But in recent years the industry has intensified. A wave of
newcomers planted larger farms, using greenhouses and
artificial lights to extend the growing season and yield up to
three marijuana crops in a single year. The cannabis boom has
polluted waters with fertilizers, fuels and pesticides,
triggered erosion that buries the rocky habitats where salmon
and trout spawn and grow, and drained streams of water in the
This commentary is based on speakers notes from an ACWA Talk
given by Anecita Agustinez at the ACWA Fall Conference 2019.
This talk was prepared for the first TED-talk inspired workshop
and was presented in San Diego, California to a large audience
from many backgrounds.
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.
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.
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.
The Colorado River is arguably one
of the hardest working rivers on the planet, supplying water to
40 million people and a large agricultural economy in the West.
But it’s under duress from two decades of drought and decisions
made about its management will have exceptional ramifications for
the future, especially as impacts from climate change are felt.
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.
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…
There are two things already baked into the desert’s cake
guaranteed to inject a bit of what ails the rest of the state —
the full flowering of the regulatory scheme mandated by the
state’s 2014 Groundwater Sustainability Act and reductions in
Colorado River allocations made necessary by a drying Colorado
River Basin that is already badly over allocated.
The planned downtown Palm Springs entertainment arena, like
many desert projects, is a thirsty one, requiring almost 12
million gallons of water each year to accommodate an American
Hockey League affiliate team and other visitors.
The Supreme Court today will weigh in a closed-door conference
whether to take up a dispute over states’ role in water
permitting for pipelines, hydroelectric dams, and other
projects. … The question in the case is whether states
unlawfully extended their review time for a hydropower project
on the Klamath River. It’s an issue that has cropped up in
litigation over pipelines and other projects.
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
A new federal program hopes to fill knowledge gaps on how water
moves through the headwaters of arguably the West’s most
important drinking and irrigation water source. The U.S.
Geological Survey announced the next location for its Next
Generation Water Observing System will be in the headwaters of
the Colorado and Gunnison rivers. It’s the second watershed in
the country to be part of the program…
Exactly what the Potter Valley Project will look like in the
future is not set in stone. The partnership is committed to
identifying solutions that meet the needs of the communities
and wildlife affected by the project’s operations.
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.
The water coalition has been meeting since 2018 and started
under the facilitation of Alan Mikkelsen, senior adviser to
Secretary of the Interior on water and western resources. …
The coalition aims to address challenges to fisheries, water
supply, and waterfowl and forest health.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation spent months working with the
National Marine Fisheries Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service to mitigate potential harm to endangered sucker fish in
Upper Klamath Lake, as well as threatened coho salmon in the
lower Klamath River. … However, the bureau now says it
received “erroneous data” from an outside source during
consultation, meaning it must scrap the plans and start over
For the past two centuries, California has relied heavily on
the natural resources of the North Coast region, exploiting its
pristine watersheds for agriculture and its forests for timber.
… Now the Yurok are working with local and state
organizations to revitalize the forests, rivers and wildlife, a
comprehensive feat requiring collaboration among community
leaders up and down the Klamath and Trinity Rivers.
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.
Native American tribal water rights are guaranteed by the
federal government to the extent that endangered species, like
salmon in the Klamath River, aren’t placed in danger, according
to a court decision on Thursday.
Last month, Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation declaring
October 14, 2019 “Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in California. … I
thank the governor for the proclamation. However, last month –
on California Native American Day — the governor also vetoed
legislation, Senate Bill 1, that could have helped the state
protect our salmon from Trump’s environmental rollbacks. This
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.
After touring film festivals in two dozen cities across the
country, the documentary, Visions of the Lost Sierra, will be
released online Wednesday for all to view. … Visions is a
short film exploring how the Wild and Scenic Middle Fork
Feather River has connected communities and inspired outdoor
enthusiasts for generations.
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.
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.
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
The nation’s largest water agency signed an agreement that
legally bars it from participating in a controversial plan to
raise Shasta Dam, a move applauded by environmental groups that
fiercely opposed the proposal out of fears enlarging the
state’s biggest reservoir would swamp a stretch of a protected
Northern California river and flood sites sacred to a Native
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.
Prior to a commission meeting earlier this year, the Commission
hadn’t met since 2010, according to Curtis Anderson, commission
member representing the California side of the river. …
“We’re seeing if we can be helpful by at least providing
information and providing an opportunity for people to raise
concerns concerning the Compact itself,” Anderson said.
Prescribed burns have to become a central component of forest
management if humans want to effectively battle the climate
crisis, the vice chairman of the Yurok Tribe told members of
Congress on Tuesday.
It was on the Colorado River that González, now 82, taught her
children, just like her parents and grandparents taught her, to
fish with canoes and traps made from willow trees which
flourished on the riverbanks. Now, the river stops at the
US-Mexico border and the lakes are dry and native vegetation is
confined to reforestation projects.
A set of water rules that has fueled rapid growth in Arizona’s
suburbs is riddled with weaknesses, according to a new report
by researchers at Arizona State University, who argue the
system needs to be overhauled to protect homeowners from rising
costs and to ensure sufficient water supplies for the future.
In Arizona, the mountainous city of Flagstaff normally gets 8.3
inches of rain in monsoon season but had 2.08 inches — the
driest in more than 120 years of record keeping. The Grand
Canyon airport, Teec Nos Pos on the Navajo Nation and Show Low
also had record low rainfall.
Alicyn Gitlin, conservation coordinator for the Sierra Club’s
Grand Canyon Chapter, said the project would threaten an
endangered species, interfere with the Grand Canyon’s already
degraded hydrology and damage sites held sacred by two Arizona
Arizona’s top water official presented new long-term
projections Friday showing that Pinal County doesn’t have
enough groundwater to provide for the fast-growing area’s
cities, farms and many planned subdivisions over the coming
Pumped Hydro Storage LLC is seeking approval from the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission to study the sites east of Grand
Canyon National Park over three years. None of it will move
forward without permission from the Navajo Nation. Navajo
President Jonathan Nez said he’s been briefed by tribal
economic development officials about the proposals — but hasn’t
talked with anyone from Pumped Hydro Storage.
For E. Joaquin Esquivel, California has made great strides in
fighting climate change and transitioning to a cleaner energy
sector. Now, he said, it’s water’s turn. “Water, I think, is
ready for that moment,” said Esquivel, the chairman of the
California State Water Resources Control Board who took over
from longtime chair Felicia Marcus in February.
Environmental groups that have long pushed to bring down a huge
dam along the Colorado River are suing the federal government,
alleging it ignored climate science when approving a 20-year
operating plan for the dam near the Arizona-Utah border.
President Trump’s political feud with California has spread
collateral damage across more than a dozen other states, which
have seen their regulatory authority curtailed and their
autonomy threatened by a Trump administration intent on
weakening the environmental statutes of the country’s most