Colorado River In Trouble
This is part of a post on WaterWired by Michael Campana.
Pictures added by The Waterfall.
"Bad enough the economy is tanking, but alas, the Colorado River is not doing much better, according to Patty Henetz's article in the 29 November 2008 edition of the Salt Lake Tribune.
Here are the first few paragraphs:
The drought gripping Utah, Southern California and the rest of the Southwest this century shows no sign of ending. Scientists see it as a permanent condition that, despite year-to-year weather variations, will deepen as temperatures rise, snows dwindle, soils bake and fires burn.
That's grim news for all of us in the West, perhaps most especially for the 10 million residents along the northern stretch of the Colorado River -- Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming and Colorado -- whose water rights are newer, and therefore junior, to those in Southern California, Nevada and Arizona.
Making matters worse, the Colorado -- the 1,450-mile-long lifeline that sustains more than 30 million souls and 3.5 million acres of farmland in seven states, 34 tribal nations and Mexico -- is in decline, scientists warn.
Dozens of scientific studies issued since 2004 have documented the Colorado's decline.
The river's annual flow has averaged 11.7 million acre-feet this decade, according to federal records. In 2002, the US Bureau of Reclamation measured only 6.2 million acre-feet passing Lee's Ferry below Glen Canyon Dam, the lowest flow of the decade. Even after this year's above-average precipitation, Lake Powell and Lake Mead combined are at 57 percent capacity.
Glen Canyon Dam Lake Mead
A 2007 US Geological Survey report found that, by 2050, rising temperatures in the Southwest could rival those of the nation's fabled droughts, including the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Hotter weather is expected to reduce Colorado River runoff by at least 30 percent during the 21st century.
If the USGS is correct, and if this century's trend persists, average annual flow in the Colorado could fall to 8.2 million acre-feet per year.
Imagine that. The Law of the River requires 9 million acre-feet to pass Lee's Ferry on the way to the Lower Basin and Mexico. Under a strict interpretation of the law, the Upper Basin could be left with nothing."
Read Michael's complete post on December 2nd at WaterWired.
Source material from the Salt Lake Tribune.
Dams Might Come Out
If the recent Klamath Basin agreement holds up, the results will be historic. The agreement, involving Oregon. California, the Feds & PacifiCorp paves the way for the biggest dam removal and salmon recovery project in the nation. Four dams would come out. This agreement also could resolve one of the most complicated and seemingly intractable water disputes in the history of the American West.