The blogosphere has become a vital medium for discussing important issues. Over the last month, a few blogs have provided exceptional insight into issues of conflict and cooperation, shortage and drought and planning. Topics covered include shortage and cooperation on the Colorado River, a dispute in the Rio Grande Valley, a strategy to plan for groundwater regulation and drought in California, and the Colorado Water Plan and trans-mountain diversions.
Shortage and Cooperation on the Colorado River
A Year Without the Colorado River, as Seen by Economists
Sandra Postel of National Geographic’s Freshwater Initiative discussed a recent Arizona State University study on National Geographic Water Currents. The study forecasts the economic impacts if the Colorado River were to dry up this year and reveals astonishing losses, including $1.4 trillion in economic activity and 16 million jobs for U.S. portion of the region. With impending climate change, it is predicted that the river will lose 10-30% of its flow in the decades to come, leading Postel to conclude that the impacts projected by the ASU economists are “far from hypothetical.”
Colorado River Cooperation: Maintaining Lake Mead
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California General Manager Jeffrey Kightlinger posted on his blog, H2outlook, to share his take on a Memorandum of Understanding that was recently executed among the Bureau of Reclamation, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the Arizona Department of Water Resources, the Colorado River Board of California and the Colorado River Commission of Nevada to prevent Lake Mead from dropping to critically low levels. He emphasizes the importance of the Colorado River to the seven Basin States and Northern Mexico and calls the MOU an “encouraging sign” that cooperation is possible. (For more on the MOU see “Lower Basin States Sign MOU to Stave Off Shortage,” JOW, January 2015).
A Dispute in the Rio Grande Valley
Texas Laments Unreliable Water Deliveries from Mexico
A recent article by Texas Water Development Board Chairman Carlos Rubenstein argues that Mexico’s water debt problem is a violation of the Rio Grande Treaty. In a post on the Hydrowonk Blog, Rodney T. Smith, Ph.D., rebuts Rubenstein’s claim, arguing that Texas has incorrectly interpreted the Treaty and reiterates his previous recommendation that Texas and Mexico capitalize on the progress that has been made by the Colorado River Basin States and Mexico and work cooperatively on a bi-national solution to meet water needs in the Rio Grande Valley.
A Strategy to Plan for Groundwater Regulation and Drought in California
City Slickers Come to California’s Central Coast
Rodney T. Smith, Ph.D. of the Hydrowonk Blog responds to a recent news article by Reuters that suggests that Harvard’s timely acquisition of well permits was a well-timed water play. After examining San Luis Obispo County’s land use trends and real estate prices and clarifying that that “a well permit is not a water right” (emphasis in the original), he concludes that by acquiring well permits, Harvard was not making a well-timed water play, but rather “covering” itself as the county moved toward regulating groundwater use.
On California WaterBlog, Jay Lund, of the UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences, gives a rundown of the statistics of the California drought in 2015 as of early January. While things are looking marginally better than at this point last year, most important basins outside of the Sacramento Valley—which is at 124% of normal rainfall for this time of year—are still behind on surface water levels. With three months of rain (or not rain) left, there is still hope that 2015 will prove a wetter year than 2014 for California.
The Colorado Water Plan and Trans-Mountain Diversions
In a two-part series, Jeff Simonetti of the Hydrowonk Blog analyzes the newly released draft Colorado Water Plan.
- Part 1: A Look at Colorado’s 2015 Water Plan
Simonetti questions whether the plan will provide necessary water resources to sustain the population growth and economic development the state currently faces. Because of hydrologic conditions and political factors, he argues the population growth on the East Slope cannot rely solely on new water diversions from the West Slope as the plan proposes. Additionally, the proposal fails to address particular storage and supply projects, leaving their discussions to local authorities. Simonetti believes the proposal is a strong beginning, but requires further explanation on how the Colorado basins will work together to combat their current crisis.
- Part 2: Water Supply in Colorado Part II: The Debate over Trans-Mountain Diversions
Simonetti evaluates the pros and cons of trans-mountain diversions with regard to economic and environmental impacts.
Written by Marta L. Weismann and Stratecon Staff