WESTERN WATER-A Colorado River Tribal Leader Seeks A Voice In the River’s Future–And Freedom to Profit From Its Surplus Water
Read our Western Water Q&A, Water Word of the Day and Five Don't-Miss Water Reads from Across the West
Dear Western Water readers:
As water interests in the Colorado River Basin prepare to negotiate a new set of operating guidelines for the drought-stressed river, Amelia Flores wants her Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) to be involved in the discussion. And she wants CRIT seated at the negotiating table with something invaluable to offer on a river facing steep cuts in use: its surplus water.
CRIT, whose reservation lands in California and Arizona are bisected by the Colorado River, has some of the most senior water rights on the river. But a federal law enacted in the late 1700s, decades before any southwestern state was established, prevents CRIT from sending any of its water off its reservation. The restrictions mean CRIT, which holds the rights to nearly a quarter of the entire state of Arizona’s yearly allotment of river water, is missing out on financial gain and the chance to help its river partners.
In an interview with Western Water, Flores details CRIT’s cultural ties to the Colorado River, the proposed legislation and the need for tribes to play larger roles in the upcoming renegotiations. Read the full story here.
Water Around the West
Five don’t-miss articles from California and across the West:
To survive severe drought this summer, California should learn from Cape Town’s water crisis: Writing for TIME, Aryn Baker recounts living through Cape Town’s 2017 water shortage, when the city nearly ran out of water, and urges her native California to embrace a conservation ethic before it too faces ”Day Zero”.
California dairy uses lots of water: Here’s why it matters: Twilight Greenaway of Civil Eats investigates the effect the California dairy industry is having on drinking water quality in the San Joaquin Valley as dairies have become increasingly reliant on groundwater during the drought.
As Sacramento residents let lawns die in drought, some of their water is being sold elsewhere: The Sacramento Bee’s Dale Kasler and Ryan Sabalow examine how despite drought and calls for residents to conserve water, California’s capital city is finalizing plans to sell millions of dollars worth of water to agencies in the Bay Area and Southern California.
New tools may predict wildfire season severity, rainfall months ahead: The Washington Post’s Maddie Stone reports on a new monsoon forecasting tool that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation hopes will help it more effectively manage future water levels at dwindling Lake Mead, a key Colorado River reservoir that’s vital for California, Arizona and Nevada water supplies.
The West just experienced an aspect of the climate crisis that scientists have warned of for years: CNN writers recap a wild stretch in June that featured extreme flooding in Yellowstone but nary a drop of rain in the parched Southwest, revealing the type of feast or famine weather patterns that are becoming more common with climate change.
Water Word of the Day
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Colorado River Compact, which divided the river between states in the Upper and Lower Basins, but ignored water rights for Native Americans and dismissed Mexico’s interest in the river as something to be settled later. As the historic interstate compact turns 100, some experts argue that the foundation of the so-called “Law of the River” hasn’t aged well and that major changes are necessary to address declining river flows caused by aridification and climate change. You can read more about the Colorado River Compact and other water-related issues in Aquapedia, our free online water encyclopedia.
At the Foundation
- A reunion on Oct. 26 for graduates and current members of our Water Leaders program to celebrate the program’s 25th anniversary
- Our 38th annual Water Summit on Oct. 27
- And two tours — our Northern California Tour Oct. 12-14 to explore water infrastructure and water use in this key region of the state, and the San Joaquin River Restoration Tour Nov. 2-3 to learn about the nation’s largest river restoration projects.
- You can learn more about what’s planned here.
Our beautiful Colorado River Basin map depicts the seven Western states that share the Colorado River with Mexico. The Colorado River supplies water to 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the country of Mexico. This 24×36-inch map, which is suitable for framing, explains the river’s apportionment, history and the need to adapt its management for urban growth and expected climate change impacts. Order yours here.