WESTERN WATER-A Colorado River Veteran Moves Upstream and Plunges into the Drought-Stressed River’s Mounting Woes
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:
Chuck Cullom is used to responding to myriad challenges that arise on the Colorado River. But this summer problems on the drought-stressed river are piling up at a dizzying pace: Reservoirs plummeting to record low levels, question of whether Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dam can continue to release water and produce hydropower and unprecedented water cuts.
As executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission, Cullom brings an unusual perspective to the growing list of challenges. Cullom spent the last two decades viewing issues on the river through a Lower Basin lens, managing drought strategies and mitigation plans for the Central Arizona Project. Now, in his first year at the commission, Cullom has the chance to use his dual-basin perspective to help the seven states and 30 federally recognized tribes hash out ways to address the river’s issues.
In the latest Western Water Q&A, Cullom explains the importance of communicating effectively on the river, why the Upper Basin’s five-point plan doesn’t require mandatory water cuts or offer potential savings amounts and the push to make the Lower Basin responsible for evaporation losses at Lake Mead. Read the full story here.
Water Around the West
Five don’t-miss articles from California and across the West:
Climate change is ravaging the Colorado River. There’s a model to avert the worst: The New York Times’ Henry Fountain explains how a collaborative approach used to combat water shortages in Washington State’s Yakima River Basin could serve as a model for ongoing talks on the similarly drought-ridden Colorado River.
Here’s the alarming amount of ice California’s longest glacier just lost in the heat wave: Scientists are alarmed at the unprecedented snow melt-off occurring on Mount Shasta amid this month’s blistering heat wave and the West’s ongoing drought, reports Kurtis Alexander for the San Francisco Chronicle.
California says the beaver can be a superhero in fighting climate change: California is launching a beaver restoration unit, eager to study whether the resourceful rodent can help the state meet its climate goals, writes Nathan Solis for the Los Angeles Times.
‘Water is our most precious resource’: alfalfa farmers asked to give up crop amid megadrought in the Southwest: The Guardian’s Jessica Fu highlights the uncomfortable spotlight Southwest alfalfa growers find themselves in as they continue to grow the thirsty crop with water from the dwindling Colorado River.
Europe was once green and water-rich. Now, it’s more and more like California: Jaweed Kaleem and Scott Johnson of the Los Angeles Times report from Europe which, like California, is trudging through a summer of triple-digit heat waves, drought and water shortages.
Water Word of the Day
Humans living in the Southwest have relied on the Colorado River for almost 1,500 years, using its bountiful flows to farm and flourish under arid conditions. From the river’s headwaters in the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico, more water is exported from the Colorado River Basin than any other in the United States. Today the Colorado’s flows are split up among seven western states, Mexico and 30 federally recognized tribes under a series of compacts and court decisions collectively referred to as the “Law of the River.” For a historical summary of the river’s key developments, check out our Colorado River Timeline in Aquapedia, our free online water encyclopedia.
At the Foundation
Science journalist and author Erica Gies, promoter of what she calls “Slow Water” innovations that can potentially offer resilience to the increasing severity of droughts and floods brought on by climate change, will be the keynote speaker at the Foundation’s Water Summit, which returns in person Oct. 27 in Sacramento. Now in its 38th year, our premier annual event will engage and inform attendees with conversations about critical issues affecting water statewide and across the West. This year’s theme: “Rethinking Water in the West.” Registration is now open.
Our Colorado River Bundle covers the history of the river’s development and the more recent efforts water mangers have made to combat water shortages caused by drought and climate change. This bundle features our Colorado River Layperson’s Guide, Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River Delta and the visually impressive 24×36-inch Colorado River Basin Map. The comprehensive bundle is a perfect way to get acquainted with the vital lifeline of the American Southwest.