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In The News — Water Grab News — 2017

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In The News — Below are press stories about the ongoing drought in the west; press stories also cover the Southern Nevada Water Authority's "water grab" in Nevada and Utah; and other "mega" water projects that threaten the Great Basin.
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Spring-Summer 2017 — Policy Debates over the Southern Nevada Water Authority Groundwater Development Project: Beneficial Uses of Water in a Desert — By Lisa W. Welsh, Joanna Endter-Wada, Journal of the Southwest, Volume 59, Numbers 1-2, Spring-Summer 2017, — Published by The Southwest Center, University of Arizona — PDF, 37 Pages.  For additional information about this article Access provided by Utah State University Libraries (18 Jul 2017 20:43 GMT) https://doi.org/10.1353/jsw.2017.0014

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    What this study documents. . . Judge Estes ruled that the state engineer does have a responsibility to carefully consider how an assigned use will affect the collective, existing uses of that water in rural Nevada, including ecological uses. In addition, Judge Estes’s ruling showed that allocating water should require more thought than simply assigning the available water to existing users and water rights applicants.

    Instead, allocating water necessitates a holistic view of the hydrologic system and a true understanding of how water uses interact within the system. Judge Estes’s ruling demonstrates that water allocation decision makers can and should take the time needed to clearly understand and evaluate the long-term impacts of a project, particularly one involving water rights granted in perpetuity

    . . . Battles over water can be long-standing and arduous. This case study of rural Nevada’s groundwater is no exception; SNWA has maintained water rights applications for future development while protestants [GBWN] have been fighting these plans for over 25 years. Simeon Herskovits, attorney for the Great Basin Water Network [gbwn], explained the significance of Judge Estes’s ruling: “It could fundamentally change the way regulators review [SNWA’s] controversial pipeline.”

    While Judge Estes’s decision validated many of the arguments that protestants made against SNWA’s project, the protestants are aware that Nevada water law is vague when it comes to recognizing environmental uses of water.

July 19, 2017 — Newly finished 50-year water plan marks a new era, Utah governor says — Gov. Gary Herbert on Wednesday heralded the completion of the state's new 50-year water management plan, a document four years in the making . . . The final draft does, however, still recommend the construction of both the Lake Powell Pipeline and the Bear River Project, each estimated to cost more than $1 billion. That fact displeases some environmentally minded members of Herbert's advisory team — sltrib.com

July 05, 2017 — California bill takes aim at Mojave Desert groundwater project with ties to Trump nominee — A new bill in the state Legislature would require California to review the environmental impacts of a company's proposal to pump groundwater from beneath the Mojave Desert and sell it to Southern California cities — a controversial plan that was slowed down by President Obama, but which appears to have the backing of the Trump administration — Desertsun.com

July 05, 2017 — Water experts: Climate change intensifying effects of persistent drought — The effects of global climate change are being felt in the West’s continuing drought, according to a panel discussion at UNLV last week. Wildfires have increased over the last several years, something one of Colby Pellegrino’s mentors told her years ago would show that climate change is legitimate — Las Vegas Sun

Jun 26, 2017 — Opponents continue the fight against the water pipeline — with some unlikely allies at their side — Standing on a hill overlooking Meadow Valley, near Pioche, a couple of people in a group from Las Vegas ask incredulously, “Is it natural?” Having left behind bone-dry desert when they turned off highway 93, they’re surprised by the lush vegetation blanketing the valley floor, food for the domesticated cows and wild deer that lounge on land settled by Farrel Lytle’s ancestors. Yes, the octogenarian Lytle affirms, with a quiet smile, his family and other ranchers have subsisted on the water that nourishes these pastures for 150 years — knpr.org

June 23, 2017 — Keeping an eye on Lake Mead — LAKE MEAD: Arizona risks losing water rights because of a lingering, nearly two-decade long drought in the Colorado River that could restrict water use ranging from farmers’ crops to how many households receive water, state water experts say. Calcium rings around Lake Mead tell the story of declining water levels, with cream markings permanently decorating the canyon walls that shows high levels that haven’t been seen since 1983. Current surface elevation is at 1,081 feet. If it drops another six feet, water to Arizona will likely be cut, according to an Arizona budget document — mohavedailynews.com

Alexis Kuhbander/Cronkite News June 20, 2017 — Parched by drought, Lake Mead water levels continue to fall — LAKE MEAD: Arizona risks losing water rights because of a lingering, nearly two-decade long drought in the Colorado River that could restrict water use ranging from farmers’ crops to how many households receive water, state water experts say. Calcium rings around Lake Mead tell the story of declining water levels, with cream markings permanently decorating the canyon walls that shows high levels that haven’t been seen since 1983. Current surface elevation is at 1,081 feet. If it drops another six feet, water to Arizona will likely be cut, according to an Arizona budget document

A protest sign in Baker, Nev., opposes the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s proposed 300-mile pipeline from Las Vegas to the Great Basin area, where groundwater would be transported to the state’s population center. June 19, 2017 — Water fights: Can the free market tame the West’s vital and volatile currency? — There was no electricity when Vickie Buchanan’s family came to Diamond Valley in 1958. Nor were there many crops. But there was water, and as early settlers, Vickie’s parents were given priority access under a rule fundamental to Western water law: “first in time, first in right.” A steady flow of farmers followed, planting alfalfa and timothy hay grass in the high-desert soil of the central Nevada valley. As fields started producing, demand for water skyrocketed, and the state awarded more and more water rights. These rights became the farmers’ property, and they could be passed down in perpetuity — Las Vegas Sun [Print PDF]

June 19, 2017 — WESTERN WATER: Dams: 'Relics' or vital to an 'all of the above' fix? — As the West struggles with climate change, drought and rapid population growth, talk about the region's deepening water woes often boils down to a simple but complicated question. Build more dams and other infrastructure, or ramp up conservation? E&E News put that question to two leading players with strong competing views — E & E News

June 16, 2017 — Latest forecast shifts Lake Mead from big gain to small loss — Several hundred billion gallons of water vanished from federal forecasts for Lake Mead over the past two months, but Bureau of Reclamation officials insist there’s no reason to panic. In April, the bureau was predicting that the man-made lake east of Las Vegas would finish 2018 about 21 feet higher than it is today. Now the bureau is forecasting a 4-foot drop in the surface of the reservoir over the next 18 months — a difference of 25 feet — Las Vegas Review Journal

Lake Powell on April 12, 2017. The white ‘bathtub ring’ at the cliff base indicates how much higher the lake reached at its peak, nearly 100 feet above the current level. June 15, 2017 — The Colorado River is shrinking because of climate change — The nation’s two largest reservoirs, Lake Mead on the Arizona/Nevada border and Lake Powell on the Arizona/Utah border, were brim full in the year 2000. Four short years later, they had lost enough water to supply California its legally apportioned share of Colorado River water for more than five years. Now, 17 years later, they still have not recovered. This ongoing, unprecedented event threatens water supplies to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Tucson, Denver, Salt Lake City, Albuquerque and some of the most productive agricultural lands anywhere in the world. It is critical to understand what is causing it so water managers can make realistic water use and conservation plans — hcn.org

June 14, 2017 — Phoenix officials fight drought, Havasu benefits — A plan by the City of Phoenix to significantly reduce its reliance on water from the Colorado River could mean a breather for a region constantly threatened by drought. The Colorado River provides more than 40 million people with water, and Lake Havasu City serves as the reservoir for the Phoenix and Los Angeles metropolitan areas — www.havasunews.com

 (Photo by Alexis Kuhbander/Cronkite News) June 14, 2017 — Parched by drought, Lake Mead water levels could lead to statewide water limits — LAKE MEAD – Arizona risks losing water rights because of a lingering, nearly two-decade long drought in the Colorado River that could restrict water use ranging from farmers’ crops to how many households receive water, state water experts say. Calcium rings around Lake Mead tell the story of declining water levels, with cream markings permanently decorating the canyon walls that shows high levels that haven’t been seen since 1983. Current surface elevation is at 1,081 feet. If it drops another six feet, water to Arizona will likely be cut, according to an Arizona budget document — cronkitenews.azpbs.org

June 14, 2017 — Utah Congressional Delegation Asks Trump to Fast-Track Colorado River Destruction — Colorado River, USA: Today, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) received a letter from the Utah Congressional delegation and led by Republican U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, asking President Trump to ‘Expedite’ the permitting of the Lake Powell Pipeline (Pipeline). The letter is posted here. The Pipeline proposes to divert 86,000 acre feet of water (28 billion gallons) out of the Colorado River at Lake Powell every year to fuel and subsidize population growth in Southwest Utah. The letter states that Trump should expedite the Pipeline as a part of his “infrastructure” executive order and make the Pipeline a “high priority”. FERC is the permitting agency for the Pipeline — savethecolorado.org

June 06,2017 — Advocates celebrate protection of Nevada water law as Legislature adjourns — The Nevada Legislature adjourned last night without enacting a controversial measure to redefine key provisions of the state's water law. Assembly Bill 298 was a proposal by the Southern Nevada Water Authority to lay out the definitions of certain terms and a detailed monitoring, management and mitigation (or 3M) process in statute. Despite attempts to work on the language, the bill died in the face of extensive opposition from environmentalists, sportsmen, ranchers, farmers, rural residents and governments, tribes, and businesses. This broad group of stakeholders feared the language was too permissive and would lead to more of the state's groundwater basins becoming over-allocated — Nevada Appeal

June 02, 2017 —U.S. issues permit for large dam on Colorado River headwaters — The United States Army Corps of Engineers has given a water agency in Colorado's Front Range the green light to build a large dam and reservoir to divert and store water from the Colorado River – the first such project that has been permitted in decades — UPI.com

May 30, 2017 — [opinion letters] Will water bill come back to life in Carson City? — A dangerous water-grab bill seems to have stalled in our Legislature, as the Review-Journal recently reported (“Dozens more bills die in Nevada Legislature,” May 22). But the many Nevadans who oppose Assembly Bill 298 fear this incredibly harmful legislation may not be as dead as it seems — Las Vegas Review Journal

May 30, 2017 — Three Reasons Why Water Markets May Be Damaging the West’s Rivers River protection advocate Gary Wockner says there is no evidence so far that water markets will be a cure for the West’s ailing rivers, and instead there should be more investment in a “rights of nature” approach. — I’VE JUST RETURNED from Ecuador, which is famous among environmentalists across the world because it has “rights of nature” enshrined in its national constitution. Ecuador is the only country in the world to have such a constitutional provision which allows for nature to be a “plaintiff” in a court of law. Further, Ecuadorian activists are very excited that the national parliament has passed a new law to allow citizens to sue the government and corporations for environmental harms — .newsdeeply.com

Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River near Page, Ariz. Credit Education Images/UIG, via Getty Images May 24, 2017 —[BOOK REVIEW | NONFICTION] The Colorado River and Its Unnatural World — New York Times, By DAVID BIELLOMAY

May 21, 2017 — Op-Ed The ludicrous plan to pump Mojave water to L.A. — LA Times

May 20, 2017 — Water bill among 33 proposals now dead at Nevada Legislature — A total of 33 pieces of legislation were left behind at the close of business Friday evening — dead because they failed to win committee passage.All of those measures were approved by the house where they were introduced. Seven Assembly and 26 that originated in the Senate are dead. Among them is AB298, a controversial bill that would have made extensive changes to 150 years of Nevada water law, including redefining such things as perennial yield — the amount of water that can be removed from a basin without degrading the aquifer — Nevada Appeal

May 18, 2017 — Reckoning Ahead for Arizona as Water Imbalance Grows on Colorado River — IN ARIZONA, WATER scarcity is like the background hum of conversation in a popular restaurant: unrelenting. But even in this desert state, the ever-present strain on water supplies could soon be felt more acutely. As soon as 2019, the water level in Lake Mead on the Colorado River could drop below an elevation of 1,075 feet — newsdeeply.com

May 17, 2017 — Climate Change Be Damned: Army Corps Issues Decision Approving First Major New Dam And Diversion On The Colorado River In Decades — savethecolorado.org

May 17, 2017 — Thirsty Las Vegas pushes legislative water grab — After failing several times to win approval for a new groundwater depletion scheme via regulatory channels, the Southern Nevada Water Authority is now pursuing a legislative water grab that could devastate fragile desert ecosystems and push some endangered species even closer to extinction. Most recently, the Nevada Supreme Court rejected the Las Vegas bid for a new pipeline — summitcountyvoice

Rancher Dean Baker talks strategy with fellow Snake Valley residents at a 2009 meeting in advance of a hearing on plans to pipe groundwater to Las Vegas from across eastern Nevada. (Las Vegas Revi ...Rancher Dean Baker talks strategy with fellow Snake Valley residents at a 2009 meeting in advance of a hearing on plans to pipe groundwater to Las Vegas from across eastern Nevada. (Las Vegas Review-Journal) May 16, 2017 — Nevada rancher, water authority opponent Dean Baker dead at 77 — Dean Baker was a rancher, a pilot and a businessman, but most people knew him as a thorn in the side of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. The dogged opponent of the authority’s plans to siphon water from across eastern Nevada died Saturday at a St. George, Utah, hospital from complications from Alzheimer’s disease. He was 77. “He was driving around the ranch on dirt roads a week before he died,” said Baker’s oldest son, Dave. “It meant everything to him.” — Las Vegas Review Journal [Print PDF]

May 16, 2017 — Dean Baker: A water hero [OPINION - By Abby Johnson] — Nevada Appeal

May 16, 2017 —Nevada legislative bill to change water law stalls — A bill designed as a major rewriting of Nevada water law isn't ready, the legislation's authors and the chairwoman of the committee reviewing it said Tuesday. "I think it's safe to say we're not there yet," said Southern Nevada Water Authority lobbyist Andy Belanger at the end of a two-hour hearing that drew well over a dozen opponents. But he told Senate Natural Resources Chairperson Yvanna Cancela, D-Las Vegas, he believes many of their concerns can be fixed if she's willing to consider the measure this week. For her part, Cancela too indicated "298 may be too tainted" to win approval this session — Nevada Appeal [Print PDF]

May 16, 2017 — Hearing reignites Southern Nevada water import debate — CARSON CITY – Environmentalists, ranchers, farmers and rural residents lined up Tuesday to oppose a bill backed by the Southern Nevada Water Authority that they say would upend state law and make it easier for large water import projects — Las Vegas Review Journal

May 16, 2017 — Testimony of Howard Watts, Communications Specialist (GBWN) RE: Opposition to AB 298 — 2 page PDF

Michael Cohen of the Pacific Institute studies the Salton Sea and its implications for water management in the Colorado River system. (Photo Courtesy Michael Cohen) May 16, 2017 — How the Colorado River’s Future Depends on the Salton Sea — California’s giant desert lake is key to negotiations over the future of Colorado River water supplies. It’s a battle between millions of water users and a complex and troubled ecosystem. California’s largest lake, the Salton Sea, is an accident. It was created in 1905 when a levee broke on an irrigation canal, flooding a giant desert playa. Today it has become a sticking point in negotiations between three states over the future of the Colorado River — mercury.postlight.com

[Michael Cohen of the Pacific Institute studies the Salton Sea and its implications for water management in the Colorado River system

May 15, 2017 — Rural Residents, Conservationists to Oppose Water Bill at Tuesday Hearing — CARSON CITY, Nev. A coalition of Nevadans will be at the state legislature Tuesday afternoon to voice their opposition to proposed state water-law revisions that would make it easier to siphon groundwater away from rural Nevada, which could devastate local ecosystems and economies. Rural residents, ranchers, conservation groups and farmers will express their concerns during the hearing over portions of the proposed bill, known as A.B. 298, which have the potential to hurt existing water-rights holders and the environment. The proposed bill alters Nevada water law to more readily facilitate inter-basin groundwater-export projects, similar to those already proposed by the Southern Nevada Water Authority in eastern Nevada. Such projects have the potential to dry up springs and wetlands, and cause the water table to draw down. This would in turn have devastating effects on Nevada’s wildlife, endangered species and residents of rural eastern Nevada — biologicaldiversity.org [Press Coverage — RGJ.com] [More Coverage — RGJ.com

May 15, 2017 — Calls to Rethink the Colorado River’s Iconic Dams Grow Louder — With two major reservoirs on the Colorado River, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, sitting half empty, will a new hydrologic reality be enough to push for big management changes? One conservation group hopes so — newsdeeply.com

Sean Holstege May 11, 2017 — Is Lake Mead Half Empty or Half Full? Predictions for Arizona's Water Future — Whether you view the lake as half full or half empty depends on your outlook. Objectively, of course, Lake Mead is definitely well beyond half empty. But we like people who challenge orthodoxy around here, so a new study about Arizona’s water woes caught our eye. Western Resource Advocates, a water conservation group based in Colorado, issued a sobering report last week about Arizona’s water shortage. “Arizona’s Water Future” concludes that it’s a tossup whether the state will have to begin water rationing next year — phoenixnewtimes.com

May 03, 2017 — War of words flares in Arizona over Lake Mead water — Officials in Arizona have reached an impasse on a multistate agreement aimed at storing more Colorado River water in Lake Mead, but Southern Nevada Water Authority chief John Entsminger said he is confident the deal will still get done — Las Vegas Review Journal [Print PDF]

April 21, 2017 — Despite Wet Year, We Need Conservation Across Colorado Basin &mdash ;record precipitation and snowpack in California, atmospheric rivers crashing across the Pacific Northwest and lingering above-average snowpack across Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. And while short-term relief is welcome, we shouldn’t break out the party hats quite yet. As Mother Nature often shows us, we never really know what is right over the horizon – we need to be prepared — newsdeeply.com

April 18, 2017— Lake Mead to get above-average flow of Colorado River water — The federal government plans to release an above-average amount of Colorado River water into Lake Mead this year, but it’s less than many hoped after a healthy snow season across much of the West — RJ.com

April 16, 2017 — USGS finds vast reserves of salty water underground in California — A new nationwide study has unearthed the huge hidden potential of tapping into salty aquifers as a way to relieve the growing pressure on freshwater supplies across the U.S.Digging into data from the country’s 60 major aquifers, the U.S. Geological Survey reports that the amount of brackish — or slightly salty — groundwater is more than 35 times the amount of fresh groundwater used in the U.S. each year — santacruzsentinel.com

April 15, 2017 — Follow a gallon of water from Lake Mead to a Las Vegas tap — RJ.com

April 13, 2017 — Road to Understanding: Utah's West Desert residents face unique challenges — WEST DESERT, Juab County — Life is peaceful in the West Desert. It’s a beautiful part of Utah, but living in an extremely rural area has its own set of unique challenges. Mornings start early for residents in the small communities of Juab and Tooele counties. Ranchers are up and working earlier than most people to tend to their animals and provide for their families. Barbara Mumm never thought she would become a goat rancher, but living in Partoun meant there weren’t many options for her — www.ksl.com

April 13, 2017 — How Can The Colorado River Continue To Support 36 Million People In 7 States? — New Yorker staff writer David Owen says that convoluted legal agreements and a patchwork of infrastructure determine how water from the Colorado is allocated. His new book is Where The Water Goes — NPR

April 11, 2017 — California isn’t accounting for this major emitter — hcn.org

April 2017 — American's Most Endangered Rivers, 2017 — The Lower Colorado River provides drinking water for one in ten Americans, nourishes cities including Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Phoenix, and grows approximately 90 percent of the nation’s winter vegetables. However, water demands are outstripping supply, and climate change makes the situation even more urgent — American Rivers

Ryan Webb, a post doctoral fellow with CU and the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), battling fierce winds and snowfall, heads towards the 2nd of 3 research stations April 08, 2017 — Late March snow reversed early-season melt and rescued Colorado snowpack [NRCS report for April shows statewide snowpack at 107 percent of median]: Late-March snowfall in the high country rescued a flagging snowpack, buoying every river basin in Colorado above normal despite below-average precipitation for the month — Denver Post

April 03, 2017 — Trump, Western storms cast uncertainty on Colorado River — The situation last summer was as clear to accept as it was sobering. Prolonged drought had strained an already overallocated Colorado River, and nowhere was this more visible than at the reservoirs along the river. Behind the Hoover Dam, surface levels at Lake Mead, from which Las Vegas draws most of its water, dropped to a low not seen since the lake was filled in 1935. Water managers said states likely would face cuts to their supplies — The Las Vegas Sun [Print PDF]

April 02, 2017 — WHERE THE WATER GOES: In n 1976, when I was twenty-one, I spent the summer living in a rented house in Colorado Springs and working on the grounds crew of an apartment complex on what was then the outskirts of the city. During most of day, my co-workers and I moved hoses and sprinklers around the property, to keep the grass green; then we mowed what we had grown. Watering was like a race. The grass began to turn brown almost the moment we moved our sprinklers, partly because we were a mile above sea level in what is essentially a desert, and partly because the apartment complex had been built on porous ground, on the site of an old quarry. One night, I dreamed that one of the Rain Bird rotary sprinklers we used at work was keeping me awake by rhythmically spraying me in bed, and I made a mental note to ask my housemate not to water my room while I was trying to sleep — The New Yorker

March 28, 2017 — Stanford ranks states in the Colorado River Basin on water rights transfers — A new report from Stanford’s Water in the West program assesses progress among states in the Colorado River Basin with respect to environmental water rights transfers, a legal tool that enables water rights holders to voluntarily transfer their water to rivers, streams and wetlands to benefit the environment and potentially generate revenue — stanford.edu

Zack Colman/The Christian Science Monitor | March 27, 2017 — For water users on Colorado River, a mind-set of shared sacrifice A wet winter is easing water strains in the Southwest, but the longer-term outlook is generally hotter and drier. States now have that in mind in water bargaining. Jason Tucker’s job title is facility manager at the Glen Canyon Dam. But you could also say he’s also a kind of banker. Colorado River water flows into his bank – the reservoir behind the dam. He can then loan it out to create electricity. Some even call the dam here a kind of “savings account,” tapped as needed to replenish Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam, which lie past the Grand Canyon to the west — csmonitor.com

March 21, 2017 — Colorado River losing essential water flow, new research shows — An increase in temperatures has the ability to reduce the flow of water in the Colorado River by 20 to 30 percent by mid-century, according to new research done by Colorado State University and the University of Arizona. The research done by Bradley Udall, a senior water and climate scientist for CSU, and UA professor Jonathan Overpeck, found that loss of water is driven by higher temperatures arising from an increase in greenhouse gas emissions — collegian.com

March 21, 2017 — 10 facts about water policy and infrastructure in the US — Brooking.edu

March 19, 2017 — Big snowstorms put Colorado River drought plan on ice — An unusually snowy winter in the northern Rockies has for now helped put the kibosh on a statewide plan to conserve Colorado River water to stop Lake Mead from falling too low. Future conservation efforts are highly uncertain. For many months, water agencies including Tucson Water have discussed a plan to save 1.2 million acre-feet of river water over three years to delay the threat of shortages to the Central Arizona Project, which brings drinking water to Tucson and Phoenix and irrigation water to Central Arizona farmers. But the snowy winter appears to mean that the river and lake will be flush enough this year to significantly reduce the odds of short-term water cuts even without a conservation plan — tucson.com

March 08, 2017 — How water swaps help the West manage a precious resource — When a market for trading water rights opened in central Nebraska last year, one of the initial bidders wasn’t a corn farmer, or even a water user at all in the traditional sense. It was the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, a conservation group investing to replenish the region's major river, the Platte —csmonitor.com

March 08, 2017 — Significant court victory towards securing the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’ water future — Pasadena, CA – On March 7, 2017, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion in a landmark water case involving claims to groundwater underlying Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley in California — narf.org

March 07, 2017 — State engineer wants to tweak Nevada water laws — CARSON CITY: A bill to update technical aspects in state water law received only token opposition Tuesday in a Senate committee hearing. State Engineer Jason King told members of the natural resources committee that the intent of Senate Bill 47 “is to address issues throughout the water law that we believe need clarification, correction or addition” — LRJ.com

March 06, 2017 — Getting water to, from Blue Diamond Hill development won’t be cheap — The developer of Blue Diamond Hill can expect to spend tens of millions of dollars on infrastructure to provide water and sewer service to a proposed 5,025-home community, officials say. “And that’s a conservative estimate,” said Bronson Mack, Las Vegas Valley Water District spokesman — LRJ.com

March 02, 2017 — Nevada still in drought despite full snowpack — LAS VEGAS - The 2016-2017 winter season dropped plenty of snow in the Rockies. For years, the decade and a half drought across southern Nevada and the lower Colorado River Basin has impacted water levels at Lake Mead, creating what locals have long dubbed "the bathtub ring." Nevada is still considered to be in a drought, but the accumulation in snowpacks has experts hopeful about the health of Lake Mead. However, the state's not out of the clear — Lasvegasnow.com [Related Story]

February 28, 2017 — In arid Southwest, cities expand but use less water — LAS VEGAS AND PHOENIX : Mat Baroudi used to have a backyard of grass, consuming 55 gallons of water per square foot. Now it’s stone floor with a gazebo and a fire pit in the center. Jasmine, flowering plum, and Australian bottle trees dot the yard. Two tortoises, Blaze and Dmitri, bask in what passes for early morning cool — csmonitor.com

February 27, 2017 — Sinking Land Crushes California Groundwater Storage Capacity — Unbridled pumping of aquifers in California’s San Joaquin Valley is severely reducing the land’s capacity to hold water, according to a Stanford University study. The loss of storage is due to subsidence, which is the compaction of soils as a result of removing too much water. The study, which provides the first estimate of the permanent loss of groundwater storage space that occurred during a drought from 2007 to 2010, also shows that California lost natural water storage capacity equal to a medium-sized reservoir. The losses occurred just as the state prepares to spend billions of dollars to build reservoirs to retain water, either above ground or below — circleofblue.org

February 24, 2017 — Hot weather linked to climate change is reducing Colorado River flows, study says — Hot weather related to long-term climate change has been a prime cause of this century's chronic shortfalls in Colorado River flows, a new study says. This is the first study to formally link climate change to the river's declining flows, said the researchers, Jonathan Overpeck of the University of Arizona and Bradley Udall of Colorado State University — By Tony Davis The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson

February 18, 2017 — Wet winter has improved Colorado River basin's water forecast, but the drought endures — California is not the only place in the West confronting startling amounts of rain and snow. Drought conditions have declined substantially across the region in recent weeks, with heavy storms replenishing reservoirs and piling fresh powder on ski resorts. Yet there is one place where the precipitation has been particularly welcome and could be transformative: the Colorado River basin, which provides water to nearly 40 million people across seven states — LA Times

February 17, 2017 — Deep Rockies snowpack likely to forestall Colorado River water shortage — With snow piling up in the mountains that feed the Colorado River, the short-term outlook for Lake Mead has suddenly improved. But new research warns of more trouble ahead — Las Vegas Review Journal

February 15, 2017 — Why desalination alone won’t water the West — Late last month, a list of infrastructure projects purportedly prioritized by the Trump administration sparked headlines across the country. Several of the projects aim to swell water supplies in the West, including a controversial plan to capture groundwater beneath California’s Cadiz Valley, a venture to pipe water out of an aquifer in New Mexico, and a proposed desalination plant perched on the edge of the Pacific Ocean, in Huntington Beach, California. The nearly $1 billion desalination plant could be operating as soon as 2020, according to Poseidon Water, the company behind the project — hcn.org

February 15, 2017 — Dam precious resource: Despite drought, precautions in place reduce threat to lake levels — Though the worst drought on record has been plaguing the Colorado River since 2000, the water situation for Boulder City residents may not be as dire as some people believe, according to multiple sources. Daniel Bunk, river operations group manager for the Bureau of Reclamation, Lower Colorado Region, said Lake Powell provides a buffer that has helped curb the amount of water lost each year at Lake Mead, which currently sits at about 1,087 feet, a low it hasn’t seen since 1956, well before the drought began — BoldercityReview.com

Jason King, Nevada State Engineer February 14, 2017 — Water looming as key issue for Nevada Legislature — CARSON CITY: State lawmakers got a crash course Tuesday on Nevada’s complicated water laws as they prepare to consider several bills dealing with the most precious resource in the driest state in the nation. State Engineer Jason King, whose office has proposed four bills this session, said more proposed laws are expected, including one to address Nevada’s long-standing doctrine of “use-it-or-lose it” — Las Vegas Review Journal

February 14, 2017 — The West’s coal giant is going down — The smokestacks of the Navajo Generation Station rise 775 feet from the sere landscape of the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona, just three miles away from the serpentine, stagnant blue wound in sandstone known as Lake Powell — hcn.org [Print PDF]

February 14, 2017 — Why keep the Salton Sea? — In 1905, an engineer gave California a lake. He didn’t do it on purpose; the cuts he made in a canal a few miles into Mexico burst open, releasing the full force of a flooding Colorado River into the Imperial Valley. For two years it filled a pit known as the Salton Sink, in southeastern California, until the government managed to close the breach — hcn.org [Print PDF]

February 10, 2017 — NASA Improves Snowmelt Forecast In Colorado River Basin NASA is keeping track of dust that settles on snow in the Rocky Mountains. The research will help hydrologists improve their predictions for how fast the Colorado River will rise this spring — kjzz.org

February 09, 2017 — San Joaquin Valley continues to sink because of groundwater pumping, NASA says — California’s San Joaquin Valley continues to sink at an alarming rate because of groundwater pumping and irrigation, according to a new study by NASA. Ground levels in some areas have dropped 1 to 2 feet in the last two years, creating deeper and wider “bowls” that continue to threaten the vital network of channels that transport water across Southern California, researchers say — LA Times

February 2017 Vanishing Act: NASA Scientist Jay Famiglietti on Our Changing Water Future [Time 27.55] — conversation with Jay Famiglietti, senior water scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. One of the space agency’s most intriguing ventures is what it learns by turning its view back at Earth. A perspective that—as it turns out—can tell us a lot about our changing planet — NASA

February 06, 2017 — Desalination of aquifers offers drought-weary California new hope — California’s historic drought may be winding down. But water officials across the Golden State are increasingly exploring a hidden but promising way to add to the state’s water supply: removing salt from the billions of gallons of brackish — or distastefully salty — water that lies deep below the Earth’s surface — Mercurynews.com

Tahoe, 2017 -- Photo: (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Grou February 02,2017 — Sierra Nevada snowpack is biggest in 22 years — and more snow is on the way — After a month of huge blizzards and “atmospheric river” storms, the Sierra Nevada snowpack — source of a third of California’s drinking water — is 177 percent of the historic average, the biggest in more than two decades — Mercurynews.com

A view from the Lake Mead side of the Hoover Damn. (PHOTO: Via Pixabay)February 01, 2017 — Shrinking Lake Mead Water Levels Could Trigger Official Shortage — Water levels in Lake Mead, which stores water for Arizona, California and Nevada, have plunged in recent years. If levels drop below a certain point, they trigger an official shortage. The three states are trying to avoid that. Federal water managers say there is a 50-50 chance water levels in Lake Mead will fall below 1,075 feet above sea level, or about 35 percent capacity for the reservoir. That’s the point at which federal rules will kick in mandating radical cuts in water taken from the lake —azpm.org

January 24, 2017 — NASA measures 'dust on snow' to help manage Colorado River basin water supplies When Michelle Stokes and Stacie Bender look out across the snow-capped mountains of Utah and Colorado, they see more than just a majestic landscape. They see millions of gallons of water that will eventually flow into the Colorado River — —Phys.org

January 21, 2017 — Western drought watchers keep wary eye on Lake Mead level — Arizona would be the first state to feel the effects of Colorado River cutbacks if the water level continues to fall at drought-stricken Lake Mead, an environmental advocacy group says in a new report. The Western Resource Advocates reached its conclusion as the vast reservoir behind Hoover Dam sits at 39 percent of capacity — LasVegasSun

January 20, 2017 — Early snowpack indicates ‘coin flip’ for Lake Mead shortage declaration in 2018 — Snow is piling up in the Rockies and Sierra Nevada, but this year’s first official water forecast for the Colorado River still predicts Lake Mead will shrink enough to trigger a federal shortage declaration in 2018. Federal forecasters expect the lake’s surface to drop by about 9 feet by the end of 2017, which would put it inches below the all-important shortage line of 1,075 feet above sea level. That would force Nevada and Arizona to cut their use of Colorado River water under rules adopted a decade ago — Las Vegas Review Journal

January 20, 2017 — Big unfinished business for Trump: Colorado River deals, the shrinking Salton Sea — Two days before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, outgoing Interior Secretary Sally Jewell laid out a game plan for averting serious water shortages along the Colorado River. Jewell’s 10-page directive underscored the importance of concluding deals this year between California, Arizona and Nevada, as well as between the U.S. and Mexican governments, to share in reduced water deliveries to prevent reservoirs from falling to critical lows — Desertsun.com

January 19, 2017 — Water district board OKs $150M installment on Lake Mead pump station — The Southern Nevada Water Authority board voted unanimously Thursday to throw another $150 million down a hole at Lake Mead. But this is no ordinary hole. When it’s finished in 2020, the authority’s low-lake-level pumping station is expected to keep water flowing to Las Vegas even if the reservoir shrinks to a “dead pool,” the point at which Hoover Dam no longer can release water downstream. For a community that relies on Lake Mead for 90 percent of its water supply, such access is crucial, SNWA officials say — Las Vegas Review Journal

January 19, 2017 —Tools for the wannabe Western weather prognosticator — Weather has taken a turn for the inclement all across the West. In early January, stormy weather crossed the continent from the Pacific Northwest to New England. Then another storm system froze Portland, forcing drivers to abandon hundreds of cars on impassable streets; swirled blizzards through the Sierras; and glazed the Great Plains in ice. Rain has drenched southern Arizona, and winter is not done with the West yet — hcn.org

January 18, 2017 — Former water officials sentenced to prison in $1.3M bribery scheme — LRJ.com



Go To Water Grab News Archives — 2016



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