Arizona Water Issues

 

 

Arizona water issues impact all residents of the state... and surrounding states. Arizona's water supply is of vital importance.

Water not only sustains life, it makes possible an enjoyable quality of life as it sustains the regional economy. The strategic analysis report presented here speaks to these issues.

 

 

U.S., Mexico: The Decline of the Colorado River

 

A ring of bleached sandstone caused by low water levels during a six-year drought surrounds Lake Powell, a Colorado River reservoir near Page, ArizonaDavid McNew/Getty Images

 

Summary

An amendment to a standing water treaty between the United States and Mexico has received publicity over the past six months as an example of progress in water sharing agreements. But the amendment, called Minute 319, is simply a glimpse into ongoing mismanagement of the Colorado River on the U.S. side of the border. Over-allocation of the river's waters 90 years ago combined with increasing populations and economic growth in the river basin have created circumstances in which conservation efforts -- no matter how organized -- could be too little to overcome the projected water deficit that the Colorado River Basin will face in the next 20 years.

Analysis

In 1922, the seven U.S. states in the Colorado River Basin established a compact to distribute the resources of the river. A border between the Upper and Lower basins was defined at Lees Ferry, Ariz. The Upper Basin (Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico) was allocated 9.25 billion cubic meters a year, and the Lower Basin (Arizona, California and Nevada) was allotted 10.45 billion cubic meters. Mexico was allowed an unspecified amount, which in 1944 was defined as 1.85 billion cubic meters a year. The Upper and Lower basins -- managed as separate organizations under the supervision of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation -- divided their allocated water among the states in their jurisdictions. Numerous disputes arose, especially in the Lower Basin, regarding proper division of the water resources. But the use of (and disputes over) the Colorado River began long before these treaties.

Map - Colorado River Basin

As the United States' territory expanded to the west, the Colorado River briefly was considered a portal to the isolated frontier of the southwestern United States, since it was often cheaper to take a longer path via water to transport goods and people in the early 19th century. There was a short-lived effort to develop the Colorado River as the "Mississippi of the West." While places like Yuma, Ariz., became military and trading outposts, the geography and erratic flow of the Colorado made the river ultimately unsuitable for mass transportation. Navigating the river often required maneuvering around exposed sand banks and through shallow waters. The advent of the railroad ended the need for river transport in the region. Shortly thereafter, large and ambitious management projects, including the Hoover Dam, became the river's main purpose.

Irrigation along the river started expanding in the second half of the 19th century, and agriculture still consumes more water from the Colorado than any other sector. Large-scale manipulation of the river began in the early 20th century, and now there are more than 20 major dams along the Colorado River, along with reservoirs such as Lake Powell and Lake Mead, and large canals that bring water to areas of the Imperial and Coachella valleys in southern California for irrigation and municipal supplies. User priority on the Colorado River is determined by the first "useful purposing" of the water. For example, the irrigated agriculture in California has priority over some municipal water supplies for Phoenix, Ariz.

Inadequate Supply and Increasing Demand

When the original total allocation of the river was set in the 1920s, it was far above regional consumption. But it was also more than the river could supply in the long term. The river was divided based on an estimated annual flow of roughly 21 billion cubic meters per year. More recent studies have indicated that the 20th century, and especially the 1920s, was a time of above-normal flows. These studies indicate that the long-term average of flow is closer to 18 billion cubic meters, with yearly flows ranging anywhere from roughly 6 billion cubic meters to nearly 25 billion cubic meters. As utilization has increased, the deficit between flow and allocation has become more apparent.

Total allocations of river resources for the Upper and Lower basins and Mexico plus water lost to evaporation adds up to more than 21 billion cubic meters per year. Currently, the Upper Basin does not use the full portion of its allocation, and large reservoirs along the river can help meet the demand of the Lower Basin. Populations in the region are expected to increase; in some states, the population could double by 2030. A study released at the end of 2012 by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation predicted a possible shortage of 3 billion cubic meters by 2035.

The Colorado River provides water for irrigation of roughly 15 percent of the crops in the United States, including vegetables, fruits, cotton, alfalfa and hay. It also provides municipal water supplies for large cities, such as Phoenix, Tucson, Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas, accounting for more than half of the water supply in many of these areas. Minute 319, signed in November 2012, gives Mexico a small amount of additional water in an attempt to restore the delta region. However, the macroeconomic impact on Mexico is minimal, since agriculture accounts for the majority of the river's use in Mexico but only about 3 percent of the gross domestic product of the Baja Norte province.

There is an imbalance of power along the international border. The United States controls the headwaters of the Colorado River and also has a greater macroeconomic interest in maintaining the supply of water from the river. This can make individual amendments of the 1944 Treaty somewhat misleading. Because of the erratic nature of the river, the treaty effectively promises more water than the river can provide each year. Cooperation in conservation efforts and in finding alternative water sources on the U.S. side of the border, not treaty amendments, will become increasingly important as regional water use increases over the coming decades.

Conservation Efforts Along the Colorado

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation oversees the whole river, but the management of each basin is separate. Additionally, within each basin, there are separate state management agencies and, within each state, separate regional management agencies. Given the number of participants, reaching agreements on the best method of conservation or the best alternative source of water is difficult. There are ongoing efforts at conservation, including lining canals to reduce seepage and programs to limit municipal water use. However, there is no basin-wide coordination. In a 2012 report, the Bureau of Reclamation compiled a list of suggested projects but stopped short of recommending a course of action.

A similar report released in 2008 listed 12 general options including desalinization, vegetation management (elimination of water-intensive or invasive plants), water reuse, reduced use by power plants and joint management through water banking (water is stored either in reservoirs or in underground aquifers to use when needed). Various sources of water imports from other river basins or even icebergs are proposed as options, as is weather modification by seeding clouds in the Upper Basin. Implementation of all these options would result in an extra 5 billion cubic meters of water a year at most, which could erase the predicted deficit. However, this amount is unlikely, as it assumes maximum output from each technique and also assumes the implementation of all proposed methods, many of which are controversial either politically or environmentally and some of which are economically unviable. Additionally, many of the methods would take years to fully implement and produce their maximum capacity. Even then, a more reasonable estimate of conservation capacity would likely be closer to 1 billion-2 billion cubic meters, which would fall short of the projected deficit in 2035.

The Potential for New Disputes

Conflict over water can arise when there are competing interests for limited resources. This is seen throughout the world with rivers that traverse borders in places like Central Asia and North Africa. For the Colorado River, the U.S.-Mexico border is likely less relevant to the competition for the river's resources than the artificial border drawn at Lees Ferry.

Aside from growing populations, increased energy production from unconventional hydrocarbon sources in the Upper Basin has the potential to increase consumption. While this amount will likely be small compared to overall allocations, it emphasizes the value of water to the Upper Basin. Real or perceived threats to the Upper Basin's surplus of water could be seen as threats to economic growth in the region. At the same time, further water shortages could limit the potential for economic growth in the Lower Basin -- a situation that would only be exacerbated by growing populations.

While necessary, conservation efforts and the search for alternative sources likely will not be able to make up for the predicted shortage. Amendments to the original treaty typically have been issued to address symptomatic problems. However, the core problem remains: More water is promised to river users than is available on average. While this problem has not come to a head yet, there may come a time when regional growth overtakes conservation efforts. It is then that renegotiation of the treaty with a more realistic view of the river's volume will become necessary. Any renegotiation will be filled with conflict, but most of that likely will be contained in the United States



"U.S., Mexico: The Decline of the Colorado River is republished with permission of Stratfor."

 

 

Local Business

 

Arizona Water Issues News and Information

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April 11, 2014

Phys.org

 

Determining the sustainability of water, agriculture in Arizona

 

Central Arizona has a rich history of agriculture, contributing $9.2 billion toward the state's economy. That water has near-absolute power in determining the region's fate is not an over-reaching assumption. With increasing urban development and an uncertain climate, is this industry doomed or can it be sustained?

Researchers at Arizona State University have been studying the issue, talking to farmers about how to keep their industry on a sustainable path. They argue that a mutually inclusive and ongoing conversation among the agricultural community, urban residents,
water agencies and policymakers is necessary if the region would like to maintain an agrarian footprint in the future.

Read more

 

 

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March 28, 2014

DOI

 

United States and Mexico Celebrate Partnership for Historic Release of Colorado River Water to Delta, Benefitting Both Nations

 

BAJA CALIFORNIA, MEXICO AND YUMA, AZ – Deputy Secretary of the Interior Michael L. Connor and Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science Anne Castle today joined other senior officials of the United States and Mexico to celebrate a historic first-time intentional release of water—called a “pulse flow”—from Morelos Dam near the U.S.-Mexico border. The water release—which began on March 23, reaches its peak today and will continue until mid-May— is part of a broad package of joint cooperative treaty actions to ensure the Colorado River system is able to continue to meet the needs of both nations.

“The spirit of cooperation and commitment to protect and preserve the Colorado River is exemplary, and these partnerships will inspire future generations to take on and solve complex challenges involving finite resources,” said Deputy Secretary Connor, emphasizing the importance of this experimental flow. “This is the first time in history that water has flowed below Morelos Dam to aid in the long-term restoration of the river, and I want to thank the Mexican and U.S. Sections of the International Boundary and Water Commission, Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the Colorado River basin states, and all the U.S. and Mexican organizations involved in making today’s event happen. ”

The United States and Mexico agreed to the water release as a result of joint efforts and investments in water conservation projects in accordance with “Minute 319,” a 2012 bi-national agreement adopted under the 1944 U.S.-Mexico Treaty framework for sharing the Colorado River water. All Lower Colorado River Basin users in theUnited States. and Mexico will continue to receive their full allocations of Colorado River water in 2014.

The pulse flow, which began on Sunday with the lifting of one gate at Morelos Dam, will run for eight weeks. More control gates will open as the dam releases water at varying amounts and speeds toward the delta, its estuary and the Sea of Cortez. A volume of 105,392 acre-feet of water will flow down the river’s channel to help regenerate native cottonwood and willow habitat. The experimental flow also is providing the scientific community the opportunity to gather valuable data from collaborative monitoring activities; these data will inform both countries in developing future management actions regarding water flows in the delta. Scientists from Interior's U.S. Geological Survey are playing a key role measuring the hydrologic and ecosystem response to the pulse flow.

Representatives of federal, state and conservation organizations from the United States and Mexico have worked cooperatively since Minute 319 was signed in 2012 to establish a delivery plan for the timing and amounts of water releases from Hoover Dam for the pulse flow.
“The pulse flow now underway is the first major step in a series of anticipated actions and cooperative measures outlined between our two countries,” said Assistant Secretary Castle. “Today's event celebrates our shared vision to work together as partners to address the resources of the Colorado River and its parched Delta.”

Connor and Castle celebrated with other dignitaries including: Director General for North America from the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ana Luisa Fajer; Director General of Mexico’s National Commission for Water, David Korenfeld; U.S. Commissioner Edward Drusina and Mexico Commissioner Roberto F. Salmon from the International Boundary and Water Commission; Baja California Governor Francisco Vega; as well as representatives from seven U.S. and two Mexican states that use Colorado River water to sustain their agriculture, economies, communities and environment.

“A lot of hard work by various teams from Mexico, the United States, state governments, water districts, and private organizations has gone into making this pilot project a reality, and those partnerships are as historic as this pulse flow,” added Castle. “The results of the eight-week run of pulse flow will yield ground-breaking new science for both countries and help improve our understanding of the river, its delta, and potential restoration opportunities.”

Minute 319 is a five-year agreement approved by both governments for a series of cooperative actions. Key elements include:

Joint investment in water conservation and infrastructure projects that will generate water for the Colorado River Delta and a pilot water exchange program;

Establishing proactive basin operations by applying water delivery reductions or increases to Mexico depending upon Lake Mead reservoir conditions;

Extending humanitarian measures from a 2010 agreement, Minute 318, allowing Mexico to defer delivery of a portion of its Colorado River allotment while it continues to make repairs to earthquake-damaged infrastructure; and

Establishing a program of Intentionally Created Mexican Allocation whereby Mexico could temporarily reduce its order of Colorado River water, allowing that water to be delivered to Mexico in the future.


The Bureau of Reclamation’s Lower Colorado Region will implement many of the projects and programs outlined in the Minute 319 agreement. The Lower Colorado Region serves as the "water master" for the for the most downstream 688 miles of the Colorado River within the United States on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior.

 

 

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March 21, 2014

Senator Jeff Flake

 

Op-ed for The Arizona Republic: It's Time to Talk Water

 

 

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March 18, 2014

Aljazeera

 

Drought-plagued future predicted for Arizona

 

Despite a history of droughts, global climate change will make future droughts worse in US state, says geoscientist.

 

The American southwest is being plagued by drought.

Climate scientists warn drier-than-normal conditions may be here to stay.

In fact, future droughts may be more severe than in the past in Arizona.

Al Jazeera's Rob Reynolds reports from Mesa Grande.

 

 

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March 9, 2014

Tucson News Now

 

Drought worsens in Arizona, rest of Southwest

 

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Tucson hasn't seen any measurable rainfall this year.

Arizona just has not had much rain at all this winter; January is proving to be practically bone dry.

All of that is unusual for us.

Here in Tucson we depend on groundwater and the Central Arizona Project. That's Colorado River water.

However, when you've had drought conditions for more than a decade, something has got to give.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor map shows that 36 percent of Arizona is in severe drought.

Three months ago it was 14 percent.

Read more

 

 

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February 26, 2014

National Geographic

 

Help Return the Colorado River to the Sea

 

Imagine if one day you couldn’t get home. Your journey stopped short of where you were supposed to be.

That’s the story of the iconic Colorado River, which sculpted the Grand Canyon and today sustains 30 million people, but now stops flowing 90 miles before reaching the sea, its final destination.

With partners, Change the Course is working to restore the Colorado’s flow and revitalize wetlands in its Delta — crucial habitats for numerous species of birds and wildlife.

Read more

 

 

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February 24, 2014

SoFA Staff

 

Report Warns of Looming Water Crisis

 

Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) officials are warning that Arizona should start looking into additional water sources and practices... or face a crisis as soon as 2050.

The report  was prepared by the ADWR at the behest of Governor Brewer predicts water shortfalls of up to 900,000 acre-feet a year by 2050 as the population grows.

The report, Arizona’s Next Century: A Strategic Vision for Water Supply Sustainability, was released two weeks ago and is garnering a lot of attention from state leaders.

The water agency advances several possible solutions, including building a water desalination plant.

 

 

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February 2, 2014

The Week

 

The unprecedented water crisis of the American Southwest

 

 

A prolonged drought has sapped the once-vigorous Colorado River, threatening the water supply of millions

 

Why is the Colorado so important?
It's the lifeline of the arid Southwest. Starting off in the snowy Rocky Mountains of northern Colorado, the 1,450-mile river snakes its way through the Grand Canyon and southwest toward Mexico, supplying water to seven states — California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming. The river and its tributaries provide water for 40 million people in hot, thirsty cities such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Phoenix, while irrigating 4 million acres of farmland stretching from California's Imperial Valley to Wyoming's cattle herds. But with the Colorado's flow now reduced to a muddy trickle in parts, millions in the Southwest face the grave prospect of acute, permanent water shortages. The river "is a testament of what happens when we ask too much of a limited resource," said PBS filmmaker Peter McBride. "It disappears."

What's causing the problem?
The most immediate cause is 14 years of drought unrivaled in 1,250 years. Low snowpack in the Rocky Mountains has diminished the river at its source, while soaring summer temperatures over 110 degrees have evaporated its waters, depleted its reservoirs, and dried out huge swaths of soil — crippling farmers in the process. "I've got corn plants that are as brown as you could imagine," said Weld County, Colo., farmer Dave Eckhardt last summer, after losing more than 400 acres of his 1,400-acre crop. Colorado's supply crisis has been exacerbated by a demand problem: Millions of Americans have flocked to the Sun Belt to enjoy warmer temperatures, and have dug swimming pools and planted grass lawns that really don't belong in desert climates.

Read more

 

 

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January 29, 2014

Arizona Department of Water Resources

 

Arizona’s Next Century: A Strategic Vision for Water Supply Sustainability

 

The Arizona Department of Water Resources released a report, Arizona’s Next Century: A Strategic Vision for Water Supply Sustainability, that provides a foundation for Arizona’s continued economic prosperity and growth in its next Century. The Strategic Vision assesses current and projected demands and water supplies that have been identified in recent reports and provides potential strategies that will help Arizona meet its future needs. Recent studies have identified the potential for a long-term imbalance between available water supplies and projected water demands over the next 100 years if no action is taken. The Strategic Vision creates the framework for addressing future water supply challenges and helps to secure sufficient and dependable water supplies for Arizona. The Strategic Vision has been prepared at the request of Governor Brewer and is identified as part of her January 13, 2014 “The Four Cornerstones of Reform”, building on Arizona’s past successes to meet our future challenges in water supply sustainability.

“While, the State as a whole is not currently facing an immediate water crisis, Arizona is at a point where it must begin to face future water supply and management challenges,” said Arizona Department of Water Resources Director, Sandy Fabritz-Whitney. “We are at the crossroads of having to decide what actions we will take to face those challenges. Now is the time to begin addressing this challenge. The Strategic Vision for Arizona is a necessary next step in continuing to ensure that Arizona has sufficient and sustainable water supplies.”

Over the next 25 to 100 years, Arizona will need to identify and develop additional water supplies to meet projected growing water demands. While there may be viable local water supplies that have not yet been developed, water supply acquisition and importation will be required for some areas of the State to realize their full growth potential.

“Arizona’s future success depends on how effectively we continue to manage our water resources and develop new water supplies and infrastructure. Our past and present success, while noteworthy and vital to our way of life, cannot sustain Arizona’s economic development forever and we must continue to plan and invest in our water resources” said Director Fabritz-Whitney.

The Arizona Department of Water Resources will begin a statewide outreach tour to present the Strategic Vision and receive input from local stakeholders and other interested parties.

The report and presentation dates are available at: http://www.azwater.gov/AzDWR/Arizonas_Strategic_Vision

 

 

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October 27, 2013

govtrack.us

 

Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 Passed By House

 

H.R. 3080: Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013

 

 

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October 18, 2013

The Hill

 

EPA move 'unprecedented'

 

Republican leaders of the House Science Committee are accusing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of rushing a rule to establish broad authority over streams and wetlands.

In a letter to the agency on Friday, Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Chris Stewart (R-Utah) alleged that it is trying to initiate a “sweeping reinterpretation” of its jurisdiction in a potential new rule.

The regulation to expand the EPA’s oversight would give it “unprecedented control over private property across the nation,” they asserted.


Read more

 

 

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August 15, 2013

BLM

 

Bureau of Reclamation Forecasts Lower Water Release from Lake Powell to Lake Mead for 2014

 

SALT LAKE CITY — As part of its ongoing management of Colorado River reservoirs, the Bureau of Reclamation has determined that, based on the best available data projections of Lake Powell and Lake Mead reservoir elevations, under the 2007 Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead (2007 Interim Guidelines) a release of 7.48 million acre-feet (maf) from Lake Powell is required in water year 2014 (Oct. 1, 2013 – Sept. 30, 2014).

An annual release of 7.48 maf is the lowest release since the filling of Lake Powell in the 1960s. Lake Mead is projected to decline an additional eight feet during 2014 as a result of the lower Lake Powell annual release; however, Lake Mead will operate under normal conditions in calendar year 2014, with water users in the Lower Colorado River Basin and Mexico receiving their full water orders in accordance with the 2007 Interim Guidelines and the 1944 Treaty with Mexico.

Read more

 

 

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August 15, 2013

azcentral

 

Water fears rise as Lake Powell drops

 

Conservation groups warned Thursday of drastic cutbacks in water releases from Lake Powell into the Lower Colorado River because of drought conditions, but state officials and a Central Arizona Project spokesman sought to downplay alarm over shortages.

The federal Bureau of Reclamation is expected to announce today that Lake Powell has dropped for the first time to a level that would trigger reduced flows into the Grand Canyon and the Lower Colorado River Basin, affecting mainly farmers.

Based on projections, CAP officials said water shortages could hit the Lower Colorado River by 2014 and trigger a 20 percent decrease in CAP water deliveries for Arizona.

Read more

 

 

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July 20, 2013

DOI

 

USDA and Interior Announce Partnership to Protect America’s Water Supply from Increased Wildfire Risk

 

Western Watershed Enhancement Partnership to Support Investments in Building Resilience for Critical Water Resource Infrastructure; Pilot Project Launched in Colorado – Additional Pilots Expected in Arizona, Idaho, California, Washington and Montana

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today announced a federal, local and private partnership that will reduce the risks of wildfire to America’s water supply in western states. The Western Watershed Enhancement Partnership is part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which outlines a comprehensive approach to reduce carbon pollution and better prepare the United States for the impacts of climate change, including increased risk of wildfires and drought.

Through the Western Watershed Enhancement Partnership, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of the Interior (Interior) will work together with local water users to identify and mitigate risks of wildfire to parts of our nation’s water supply, irrigation and hydroelectric facilities. Flows of sediment, debris and ash into streams and rivers after wildfires can damage water quality and often require millions of dollars to repair damage to habitat, reservoirs and facilities.

USDA’s Forest Service and Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation will kick off the new partnership through a pilot in the Upper Colorado Headwaters and Big Thompson watershed in Northern Colorado. The partnership will include the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and Colorado State Forest Service and builds off of past agreements between the Forest Service and municipal water suppliers, such as Denver Water’s Forest to Faucets partnership.

Read more

 

 

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July 18, 2013

Arizona Capitol Times

 

Official cites Arizona's water management as model for Colorado River

 

WASHINGTON – The director of the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association told a Senate subcommittee Tuesday that there is no “silver bullet” to the problem of rising demand for water from the Colorado River.

Kathleen Ferris pointed to Arizona’s years of successful water management policies that have kept water use at virtually the same level since 1957, despite an exploding population. But while conservation and reuse are essential, Ferris said other measures need to be taken, such as the augmentation of supplies

Read more

 

 

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July 15, 2013

Phoenix Business Journal

 

Lowering water levels on Colorado River could have big real estate impact in Arizona, other states

 

In most cases, properties in close proximity to river fronts only enhance their values and subsequently the surrounding economies.

But what would happen if the water flow was facing chronic drought and overuse, threatened to be eventually slowed to a trickle?

That’s become a major point of concern for the Colorado River, which federal authorities project faces a 10 to 30 percent reduction in its water by 2050 and was also named the nation’s No. 1 “most endangered” river by advocacy group American Rivers in April.

Read more

 

 

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July 6, 2013

EarthTalk

 

Demand on Colorado River is killing it

 

American Rivers, a leading nonprofit dedicated to the conservation of rivers and riparian corridors across the U.S., recently unveiled its annual list of the nation’s most endangered rivers. The mighty Colorado earned the number one spot, thanks mostly to outdated water management practices in the face of growing demand and persistent drought.

“This year’s America’s Most Endangered Rivers report underscores the problems that arise for communities and the environment when we drain too much water out of rivers,” says American Rivers’ president Bob Irvin. ”The Colorado River...is so over-tapped that it dries up to a trickle before reaching the sea.”

Read more

 

 

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June 29, 2013

The Verde Independent

 

Upper Verde River Coalition considers expanding membership

 

PRESCOTT - The Upper Verde River Watershed Protection Coalition plans to talk today about possibly expanding its membership at a 2 p.m. meeting at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez Street.

The coalition also is scheduled to talk about its budget and member dues for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Currently, eligible coalition members are the Yavapai County government and all the municipalities and Indian tribes in the Upper Verde River Basin. Members are Yavapai County, Prescott, Prescott Valley and the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe. Chino Valley is a non-voting member because it's not paying its dues. Dewey-Humboldt quit the group.

Read more

 

Follow up article: Upper Verde Coalition cuts dues, considers expanding

 

 

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June 5, 2013

Business Insider Australia

 

The River That Created The Grand Canyon Is Going Dry

 

 

The Colorado River, which famously carved the Grand Canyon, is beautiful to behold and amazing to raft. Unfortunately, this crucial water source is also slowly going dry.

Average annual rainfall has been falling in the southwest for the last century, while climate change, dam construction, invasive species, and population booms in desert cities like Las Vegas have caused water levels to drop by half in some places.

Twelve years ago, author and anthropologist Wade Davis and his friend Robert F. Kennedy Jr. rafted the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in part to consider the river’s troubled future and what we stand to lose.

They documented the trip in a gorgeous film called Grand Canyon Adventure: River At Risk.

Davis respects the power of untamed nature, and believes that we can’t afford to lose the connection we have to wild place.

 

 

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May 25, 2013

CBS Denver

 

The Colorado: Challenged By Climate, Population

 

The Colorado River’s winter whisper in the Kawuneeche Valley was becoming a quiet spring roar last week as the stream hinted at the beginnings of the snowmelt’s pell-mell tumble off the mountains.

But not a drop of that snowmelt cascading into the Colorado River will reach the Pacific Ocean. The last time the Colorado River reached its delta at the Sea of Cortez was in 1998.

The Colorado River – the carver of the Grand Canyon and the chaotic stage for river runners in Glenwood, Westwater, Cataract and numerous other canyons – is bridled by urban growth from its headwaters at La Poudre Pass at the Larimer-Grand county border all the way to its dry delta in Mexico.

Read more

 

 

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May 8, 2013

Grand Canyon National Park

 

Translocation of Endangered Humpback Chub to Tributaries of Colorado River in Grand Canyon

 

 

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May 3, 2013

Rocky Mountain Research Station

 

Our Forests in the [Water] Balance

 

 

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April 24, 2013

ADEQ

 

ADEQ Announces $253,326 Water Quality Improvement Grant to Address Polluted Runoff into Oak Creek Canyon

 

PHOENIX (April 24, 2013) The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality announced today that a $253,326 grant has been awarded to the Oak Creek Watershed Council for construction of a restroom near Slide Rock, installing 20 pet waste stations and conducting recreation outreach in Oak Creek Canyon.

The grant is one of four in Arizona this year administered by ADEQs water quality improvement grant program to address polluted runoff from many different sources. Oak Creek , from its headwaters to its confluence with Spring Creek in Oak Creek Canyon , is listed as impaired for E. coli bacteria, a bacterium that is an indicator of fecal pollution.

These funds will help restore water quality in one of the most beautiful and heavily visited tourist areas in the state, ADEQ Director Henry Darwin said. Our program has funded more than 100 projects throughout the state and has had a significant impact on improving the health of our waterways.

The restroom facility will be constructed in the Midgley Bridge area north of Sedona on Highway 89A. More than 400,000 tourists a year access three popular hiking trails from that parking area.

The pet waste stations will be installed throughout the Oak Creek corridor and will accompany an education program designed for middle-school students about protecting the environment from animal waste. The grant money also will fund an Oak Creek ambassadors program, which will be two-person teams trained by the U.S. Forest Service to provide outreach during the most popular tourist months about pollution control.

In addition, the funding will help develop an Oak Creek watershed video and guidebook to explain nonpoint source pollution in the area.

In 2009, ADEQ awarded a $311,603 grant to the Oak Creek Canyon Task Force to identify and clean up sources of E. coli in the Oak Creek watershed.

 

 

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April 23, 2013

ADEQ

 

ADEQ Announces $387,800 Water Quality Improvement Grant to Address Sediment Runoff to Little Colorado River

 

PHOENIX (April 23, 2013) – The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality announced today that a $387,800 grant has been awarded to Pioneer Irrigation Company Inc. of Springerville to construct 6,000 feet of additional piping to help control sedimentation into the Little Colorado River.

The grant is one of four in Arizona this year administered by ADEQ’s water quality improvement grant program (WQIG) to address polluted runoff from many different sources.

The piping project will be in the Big Ditch, a drainage area for the Little Colorado River which has been impacted by heavy erosion. The West Fork of the Little Colorado is currently listed as impaired for turbidity, which means there is a high level of suspended particles in the water.

“These funds will help restore water quality in one of the state’s most important mountain watersheds,” ADEQ Director Henry Darwin said. “Our program has funded more than 100 projects throughout the state and has had a significant impact on improving the health of our waterways.”

The Big Ditch Piping Project will add more than a mile of the 36-inch pipe to an earlier WQIG piping project in the area in 2000, addressing existing erosion issues in areas where the ditch runs parallel to the Little Colorado River . In addition, the grant funding will pay for an evaluation of pollution control in the watershed.

 

 

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April 17, 2013

SoFA Staff

 

Environmental Group Names Colorado River "Most Endangered"

 

 

The environmental activist group American Rivers has proclaimed the top ten "Most Endangered Rivers" in the USA.

Their evaluation states... "Outdated water management is threatening recreation, water supply, and wildlife habitat."

Their website advocates that citizens tell Congress to support additional regulations...

 

Take Action For America's Most Endangered Rivers

Keep the Colorado Flowing
We need to put the Colorado River on the path to recovery. Tell Congress to support critical programs that address water supply sustainability in the Colorado River Basin and across the West.

 

 

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April 9, 2013

USGS

 

Groundwater Pumping May Continue to Reduce the Streamflow of the Verde River, Arizona

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. The streamflow of the Verde Riverone of Arizona's largest streams with year-round flowdeclined from 1910 to 2005 as the result of human stresses, primarily groundwater pumping, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey study. The study's findings suggest that streamflow reductions will continue and may increase in the future.

Water demands in the Verde Valley have increased because of the growing population in the area. Water is pumped from the ground and diverted from the Verde River to meet these needs, which has raised concerns about past, present, and future human-induced stresses on water resources.

"The results of the study emphasize our basic understanding of hydrologic systems, which is that when water is removed by being pumped through wells, it is no longer available in other parts of the system," said USGS hydrologist Bradley Garner. "This study is important because it allows us to examine human-caused stresses, namely groundwater pumping, independently from other factors that change over time, such as annual precipitation rates."

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February 26, 2013

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