Contact the author at genia.waterwatereverywhere.info

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What's It About

  Conflicts over water prevalent in prehistory continue to expand and intensify. Although this natural resource clearly guided our history, it will definitely control our future. Unfortunately, those living in the western United States believe in water's abundance with many forgetting that most of the region is a desert.    

The Colorado River is over-worked and over-allocated. It faces increasing problems where there will be winners and losers. Inefficient irrigation systems, obsolete water laws, local/regional control of interstate water sources, and minimal or non-existent land use regulations do not address reduced water levels in the major reservoirs in the West and Southwest. Declining groundwater levels and unknown impacts of climate change only complicate managing this precious resource in the future.      

How prehistoric man dealt with the vagaries of Mother Nature, an understanding of how we arrived at our current situation and how it will affect our future are presented. In addition, how water is priced, alternative methods for allocating and regulating this limited natural resource, different approaches for expanding our available water and the necessity to change how water is viewed by all users are discussed with the hope that a sustainable water future is possible.    

Table of Contents

  Chapter 1 - "For What It's Worth" - Introduction 

Chapter 2 - "Who Would Want To Live There?" - Prehistory and water 

Chapter 3 - "Build It And They Will Come" - Recorded history and water 

Chapter 4 - "Taming The Wild River" - Colorado River history 

Chapter 5 - "California Dreamin' "- California today 

Chapter 6 - "Drought Does Not Equal A Water Shortage" - Arizona today 

Chapter 7 - "What Happens in Vegas Does NOT Stay In Vegas" - Las Vegas today 

Chapter 8 - "The Trouble I'm In" - Colorado River Today 

Chapter 9 - "What Do You Pay For Water" - Price Of Water 

Chapter 10 - "Teach Your Children Well" - Lessons learned from other countries 

Chapter 11 - "Something's Gotta Give - A new water ethic 

Chapter 12 - "Whiskey Is For Drinking and Water Is For Fighting" - The future  

Updates

Utah Putting Their Straw in the Colorado


Although many believe it to be economically unfeasible, the state of Utah submitted an application to the federal government for a 140-mile Lake Powell Pipeline to provide southwestern Utah 86,000 ac/y from the Colorado River. The state of Utah, included in the Upper Basin, is entitled to around 1.4 maf/y from the Colorado with around 300,000 af not used currently. 


Water districts in southwestern Utah claim to have no new sources of water for their future urban growth, mainly in St. George. Critics of the project maintain water from future growth will come from the sale of agricultural water rights that currently consume most of the water in the area.


This project continues to reflect water districts/consumers perfecting their rights under prior appropriation and more importantly tapping into a source of water that was over allocated almost a century ago with the Colorado River Compact.  This project will only heighten the need for Colorado and Wyoming to find ways to start using their full allotments as the handwriting is on the wall that the Colorado River will not be able to meet demands in the future.


Southwestern Monsoons Projected to Reduce Precipitation

A study published in Nature Climate Change in May of 2017 found "a robust reduction in monsoonal precipitation over the southwestern United States, contrasting with previous multi-model assessments". If this is correct gaps in supply and demand will become even greater, and droughts and more extensive wildfires will result. 

Colorado Water Plan

In August, 2017 the Colorado Water Conservation Board announced that after further study implementation of the Colorado Water Plan, passed in late 2015 will cost closer to $40billion. This is double the original estimate. As federal monies have become more scarce over the last several decades, state officials remain  unclear how projects will be financed.

Should the Colorado River Ecosystem Be Granted 'Person' Status?

Deep Green Resistance sued the state of Colorado claiming the Colorado River should be treated like corporations and recognized as a 'person' with regard to constitutional protection and enforcement.  The environmental group maintains that the river should have "the rights to exist, flourish, regenerate and naturally evolve"

California drought

On April 7, 2017, Gov. Jerry Brown lifted the drought emergency in all counties in California except Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne,  with Executive Order B-40-17. While indicating the drought is over, Gov. Brown further stated that "the next drought could be around the corner". 

The long-term drought had a severe impact on agriculture, killed over 100 million trees and continued to increase the devastating ground water depletion in the state.

Gov. Brown  directed State Agencies to continue to make conservation a way of life. It remains to be seen what that means.

As of August 8, 2017, the Drought Monitor shows the Imperial Valley still in severe drought. San Diego and Los Angeles are still experiencing moderate drought.

Lake Mead and Lake Powell Water Levels 

As of May 15, 2017 Lake Powell was at 53.82% and Lake Mead at 39.61% capacity. Lake Mead is only 3 feet above the level where an official shortage could be declared.

On the bright side, the Upper Basin  experienced significant snow fall this winter leading to a 34% chance of increased water release into Lake Mead that could increase the water level by almost 20 feet. Unfortunately, given the 16-year drought in the Colorado River Basin,  parts of the Lower Basin, especially Arizona, are now debating whether conservation measures are needed.

As of August 10, 2017 the water level at Lake Powell was at 62.85% and Lake Mead at 38.5% of capacity. On a positive note the rivers that feed Lake Powell are current running 107.9% of the August 10th average.

Climate Change

Currently there are 13 states plus Puerto Rico included in the U,S. Climate Alliance who are committed to reducing greenhouse emissions by 26% by 2025 from 2005 levels. The Alliance has also promised to cut carbon dioxide releases within the power sector by 25% over the next nine years from the 2012 levels.

A recent study published in Water Resources Journal indicates temperatures in the region will continue to increase due to climate change that will reduce the Colorado River stream flow by at least 500,000 acre feet (163 billion gallons) each year.

Update on California Reservoirs

As of August 2017 storage in the 6 largest reservoirs in California show improvement over that of July 2016. Shasta and Oroville account for almost 50% of the capacity of the 6 reservoirs with Shasta at 123%  and Oroville at 79% of average.


Southwestern Monsoons Projected to Reduce Precipitation

A study published in Nature Climate Change in May of 2017 found "a robust reduction in monsoonal precipitation over the southwestern United States, contrasting with previous multi-model assessments". If this is correct gaps in supply and demand will become even greater, and droughts and more extensive wildfires will result. 


Colorado Water Plan

In August, 2017 the Colorado Water Conservation Board announced that after further study implementation of the Colorado Water Plan, passed in late 2015 will cost closer to $40billion. This is double the original estimate. As federal monies have become more scarce over the last several decades, state officials remain  unclear how projects will be financed.


Should the Colorado River Ecosystem Be Granted 'Person' Status?

Deep Green Resistance sued the state of Colorado claiming the Colorado River should be treated like corporations and recognized as a 'person' with regard to constitutional protection and enforcement.  The environmental group maintains that the river should have "the rights to exist, flourish, regenerate and naturally evolve"


California drought

On April 7, 2017, Gov. Jerry Brown lifted the drought emergency in all counties in California except Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne,  with Executive Order B-40-17. While indicating the drought is over, Gov. Brown further stated that "the next drought could be around the corner". 

The long-term drought had a severe impact on agriculture, killed over 100 million trees and continued to increase the devastating ground water depletion in the state.

Gov. Brown  directed State Agencies to continue to make conservation a way of life. It remains to be seen what that means.

As of August 8, 2017, the Drought Monitor shows the Imperial Valley still in severe drought. San Diego and Los Angeles are still experiencing moderate drought.


Lake Mead and Lake Powell Water Levels 

As of May 15, 2017 Lake Powell was at 53.82% and Lake Mead at 39.61% capacity. Lake Mead is only 3 feet above the level where an official shortage could be declared.

On the bright side, the Upper Basin  experienced significant snow fall this winter leading to a 34% chance of increased water release into Lake Mead that could increase the water level by almost 20 feet. Unfortunately, given the 16-year drought in the Colorado River Basin,  parts of the Lower Basin, especially Arizona, are now debating whether conservation measures are needed.

As of August 10, 2017 the water level at Lake Powell was at 62.85% and Lake Mead at 38.5% of capacity. On a positive note the rivers that feed Lake Powell are current running 107.9% of the August 10th average.


Climate Change

Currently there are 13 states plus Puerto Rico included in the U,S. Climate Alliance who are committed to reducing greenhouse emissions by 26% by 2025 from 2005 levels. The Alliance has also promised to cut carbon dioxide releases within the power sector by 25% over the next nine years from the 2012 levels.

A recent study published in Water Resources Journal indicates temperatures in the region will continue to increase due to climate change that will reduce the Colorado River stream flow by at least 500,000 acre feet (163 billion gallons) each year.


Update on California Reservoirs

As of August 2017 storage in the 6 largest reservoirs in California show improvement over that of July 2016. Shasta and Oroville account for almost 50% of the capacity of the 6 reservoirs with Shasta at 123%  and Oroville at 79% of average.

About the Author

A life-long learner that started teaching at age 50, after an early career in the financial service industry in lending, country risk assessment and strategic planning. At age 60, while getting a Masters in History, a course on the history of water piqued her curiousity for this multi-layered subject. This led to a great deal of research and a passion on a topic that will only continue to increase in complexity and importance.


Married with two grown children and Bailey a 10-year old goldendoodle, she spends her time in Breckenridge, Colorado  and Scottsdale, Arizona.