Saturday, July 21, 2018

Aquifer cake

Reading the Water Wars of Arizona in the NY Times today and thinking about this aquifer cake.  Watch as she pours milk on an aquifer modeled in cake.
When I read the NYT headline, I thought they were referring to another Arizona water use controversy, ably explained by John Fleck.
Upper Colorado River Basin state leaders, in a letter Friday (April 13, 2018), said the water management approach being taken by the managers of the Central Arizona Project (CAP) “threaten the water supply for nearly 40 million people in the United States and Mexico, and threaten the interstate relationships and good will that must be maintained if we are to find and implement collaborative solutions” to the Colorado River’s problems.

[snip one paragraph]

The letter, using language that is striking in the normally staid interstate diplomacy of Colorado River interstate water management, takes issue with CAP’s practice of using more water than it might otherwise – avoiding “overconserving”, in CAP’s words – in order to ensure continue big releases from Lake Powell upstream. That has the effect of expanding water use in the Lower Colorado River Basin at the expense of draining Lake Powell, the critical reservoir for protecting Upper Colorado River Basin supplies. The managers of the Central Arizona Project are “disregard(ing) the (Colorado River) basin’s dire situation at the expense of Lake Powell and all the other basin states” by using more water than they need to, the letter said.
Many people read Marc Reisner's Cadillac Desert, originally written in 1986 (revised 1992), and think that is the last word on Colorado River water.   The book is very outdated.   UC Davis professor Jay Lund summed up the lessons he learned from the book and the things that changed in Reflections on Cadillac Desert on the California Water Blog.

The upshot is that the climate has become much more challenging for providing reliable water supplies to the Colorado River Basin.  But people have a much better understanding about the challenges and what actions to take.  Water agencies serving the 40 million people who rely on CO River water* have learned to cooperate in ways unimaginable in the 1980s.

However, there are agents intent on inflaming new water wars; the more we fight amongst ourselves, the less attention we pay to larger and more serious threats.  This may take the form of 'dark money' to fund lawsuits against local water agencies trying to impose water conservation measures or misinformation campaigns (aka lies) that sow doubt about the need for water conservation in the first place.

It's time to fight misinformation with factual information.

* Both Boulder, CO and Los Angeles, CA are outside the natural topological (gravity-fed) boundaries of the Colorado River Basin.  However, both places receive and use water from it.  In fact, about half the water used in the Colorado Front Range Urban Corridor (a high desert/plains strip east of the continental divide) is moved across the divide to the Platt River (and eventually, Mississippi River) basin.  More on that later.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are open for recent posts, but require moderation for posts older than 14 days.