Category Archives: Hydrologic Risk

The Colorado River in Disarray

The inevitable is upon us.  Channeling Hydrowonk’s favorite Chicagoan theologian, “the curtailments have come home to roost.”

Many are not surprised.  The early 20th century was a period of historically high natural flows on the Colorado River when the 1922 Colorado River Compact was negotiated.  The 1944 Treaty with the Republic of Mexico was, at least partly, a national security exercise during World War II against Nazi incursion south of our border.  Were interested parties inside and outside state and federal governments engaged in long-term comprehensive risk assessment over the past seventy years?  Based on Hydrowonk’s four decades plus experience, nope (with a few exceptions).  Neglect is always a prelude to catastrophe.

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What Does It Mean that Lower Basin Has Been Called the “Most Endangered River”?

On April 11th, the conservation group American Rivers released America’s Most Endangered Rivers 2017, this year’s installment of its trademark report that focuses and prioritizes the group’s advocacy work for the next year. Topping this year’s list is the Lower Basin of the Colorado River.

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The Water Haves and Have-nots in the Winter of 2017

In my last post, I wrote about how long-suffering California is having a good start to the water year as weather patterns have changed and so far, ample rainfall has fallen across the Golden State. A series of powerful storms this weekend and continuing this week has already caused flooding and widespread damage across parts of California. In Sacramento, Monday marked the first time in ten years that officials opened the Sacramento Weir to divert floodwaters to the Yolo Bypass and prevent further damage downstream. Strong winds also toppled the iconic Pioneer Cabin Tree, a hollowed-out sequoia large enough for cars to drive through. Further “atmospheric river” storms are expected to hit across the state as the week continues.

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Can Arizona Avoid Future Cutbacks in Allocation from the Colorado River?

As I wrote in a March 2016 Hydrowonk Post, the El Niño rains did not provide even drought relief across the western United States. Some areas have seen record rainfall. For example, Houston, Texas recorded the wettest April on record this year. A slow moving storm from April 15-18 dumped almost a foot of rain in some areas of greater Houston, more than 3 times the average rainfall for the entire month of April. The Pacific Northwest also received very plentiful rainfall. At the beginning of the water year (September 30, 2015), Washington State had 100% of its land mass covered in some form of drought according to the US Drought Monitor. As of this week, 96.71% of the state was drought-free. Unfortunately, not all areas in the west fared as well as the Pacific Northwest in terms of drought relief. Continue reading