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.
The Western United States remains mired in a serious drought. According to the most recent US Drought Monitor, 74.51% of the Western United States faces some sort of drought conditions. Extreme drought covers 18.87% of the West, with extreme and exceptional drought covering portions of California, Nevada, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Despite an abnormal dose of rain last week from the remnants of Hurricane Dolores, forecasters have little hope in the immediate term that the record drought will abate. (However, the storms from Hurricane Dolores did break records in some areas for rainfall in July. Los Angeles averages just .01 inch of rain in July. On July 18th alone, Los Angeles received .36 inches of rain, which broke the monthly record of .24 inches set in 1886.) But in the longer term forecasts, scientists are feeling more certain that an El Niño pattern may strengthen this fall to provide drought relief to the parched West. Continue reading
Lake Mead and the Arizona Intake Tower, July 1, 2014
Last July, Lake Mead dropped to its historic low elevation.
Water managers keep tabs on the reservoir conditions, so they were not blindsided. Solutions were already being sought. But I wonder, does crossing such a threshold spur a sense of urgency? Or do they already feel the pressure as the threshold approaches?