The Bureau of Reclamation’s first response to the failure of Colorado River Basin states to propose a plan to reduce the use of Colorado River water by 2 million acre-feet to 4 million acre-feet per year is to recognize evaporation and system losses in the Colorado River system, including the Lower Basin. Channeling the late management guru Peter Drucker, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.”
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.
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.
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.