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In The News — Water Grab News — 2018

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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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March 21, 2018 — Little-Known California Lawsuit Complicates Drought Plan for Lake Mead States that share Colorado River water are negotiating a Drought Contingency Plan, but a recent lawsuit in Californiaís Imperial Irrigation District, a main player in the talks, is making things harder —

March 19, 2018 — Worsening dry spell wonít tip Lake Mead into shortage – yet — An already dry winter for the Colorado River has gotten worse in recent weeks, but it wonít be enough to send Lake Mead to a record low ó at least not right away. Despite worsening conditions in the mountains that feed the Colorado, forecasters still expect the reservoir east of Las Vegas to contain just enough water by the end of the year to avoid a first-ever federal shortage declaration — Las Vegas Review Journal

March 19, 2018 — As Weather Warms, What's The State Of Our River? — . . . the Bureau of Reclamation, the federal agency in charge of Hoover Dam, says if nothing else changes and if states don't conserve even more water, then that shortage level is very much a reality in 2019. When that shortage level is hit, which the lake is just 13 feet from right now, the Department of the Interior will take over the distribution of the water and Arizona will be the first state to be required to cut back —
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March 14, 2018 — Scarce Rocky Mountain Snowpack Deepens Southwest Water Supply Concerns — How bad is 2018 snowpack in the southern Rocky Mountains, you ask? Let me count the ways —

March 13, 2018 — Southern Nevada Water Authority eyes Pacific desal for long-term supply — The Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), Nevada, US, is likely to acquire a stake in a desalination project in California or Mexico as part of its long-term strategy, general manager John Entsminger has said —

March 13, 2018 — How A Dying Lake In California Factors Into The Colorado Riverís Future — The biggest lake in California is shrinking. The Salton Sea occupies a hot, desert basin a short drive from the Mexico border and itís been evaporating for years. From the air the lake is pear-shaped, bordered by an intense concentration of farms growing winter vegetables on its south end, and date palms, citrus and brussels sprouts to the north. Itís sustained by the Colorado River water that passes through these farms as irrigation before flowing into the 350 square mile lake —

March 09, 2018 — As water shortages loom, how to keep Western rivers flowing — The drought now gripping the southwestern United States feels scarily familiar. In a recent public opinion survey of western voters, 82 percent listed low river levels as their top concern when it came to water. In five of the last seven years the snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin on March 1 has registered below the long-term average. It has been nearly two decades since Lakes Powell and Mead, the giant reservoirs on the Colorado River that supply water to some 40 million people and 5 million acres of farmland, were full — the

March 08, 2018 — Questions about dams posed by Westís shrinking snowpack — Lake Mead has become a benchmark for worsening water woes of the West. It was something else in 1936, when completion of Hoover Dam was a happy story of triumph, a display of ingenuity and determination for a nation still mired in the Great Depression. At last, the unpredictable Colorado River was tamed! Itís flood waters were finally harnessed to provide electricity but also water for expanding farms and especially for growing cities, Los Angeles first but in time others, too — /

March 07, 2018 — Las Vegas considering Pacific Coast desalination plant in the future — The population of Southern Nevada and the Las Vegas area could grow to about 3.6 million in 50 years and could spark plans for a desalination plant on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, said John Entsminger, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. Southern Nevada now has an estimated population of about 2.1 million, according to the UNLV Center for Business and Economic Research. The population jump to 3.6 million people would be big, but not the biggest in Las Vegas history, Entsminger said recently on Nevada Newsmakers —

March 07,2018 — Infighting delays Lake Mead drought plan as water 'bankers' protect control — Lake Mead is unsustainable. The Southwest U.S. needs a plan. On this, everyone agrees. But a fix is hard because water agencies exist to protect their own interests ó and while the depth of the reservoir is a piece of that puzzle, so is making sure they get their share of the water. Thatís a difficult balance to strike, and itís led to political tension in Arizona, California and potentially in the U.S. Senate. Nevada is ready to sign off on a drought plan for Lake Mead. But nothing is that easy on the Colorado River —

March 02, 2018 Study: Snowpack has declined dramatically across US West — PORTLAND, Ore. ó Scientists have found dramatically declining snowpack across the American West over the past six decades that will likely cause water shortages in the region that cannot be managed by building new reservoirs, according to a study published Friday — AP

February 18, 2018 — We must act now to protect the future of the Colorado River — The Colorado River is the hardest-working river in the Southwest and an economic engine for the entire country. But it is also a river facing a critical inflection point. Every drop of water that flows down the Colorado is already accounted for and due to a variety of factors ó including a growing population and a changing climate ó its flows are projected to decline over the next several decades —

February 15, 2018 — Restrictions wonít affect all users of Colorado River water — BULLHEAD CITY: As water levels in Lake Powell and Lake Mead drop, the potential for restrictions on water use in 2019 rise, but not for all Colorado River water users. Under the 2007 drought plan guidelines Arizona adopted, Central Arizona Project will take the full hit for whatever that reduction is, said Mark Clark, Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District manager. CAPís hit, Clark said, is about 349,000 acre-feet of water —

February 09, 2018 — Historically dry winter means Lake Mead may be closer to shortfall than people think — Lake Mead shortfall as soon as 2019? donít write it off a Q&A with the ADWR director about potential consequences of an historically low snowpack in the rockies —

February 07, 2018 — Every 2.5 minutes, the American West loses a football field worth of natural area to human development. And nearly half of all rivers in the West have been altered by human activities. This project maps a rapidly changing landscape, explores what is being lost, and profiles a new movement for conservation that is gaining ground —

February 05, 2018 — 3 big threats to the water you (and Arizona) need to survive — One of the driest winters on record is just one of the things threatening much of Arizona's water supply in Lake Mead —

February 05, 2018 — The Trouble with Cadiz — Cadiz Inc.ís 34,000-acre property is located just south of the old Santa Fe railroad line between one of the last undeveloped stretches of historic Route 66. Here, a string of alphabetically named desert towns of Amboy, Bolo, Cadiz, Danby, Essex, Fenner and others were first established as eastern Mojave railroad water stops. Below Cadiz Inc.ís holdings lies the Fenner Basin, an ancient aquifer estimated to hold between 17 million and 34 million acre-feet of water, slowly replenished by infrequent rainfall events occurring in the surrounding federally protected desert mountain ranges —

February 02, 2018 — Lettuce Saves The Colorado River — Water levels are up this winter at Lake Mead, a gauge for the Colorado Riverís ability to supply 30 million people with water, thanks partly to a surprising hero: lettuce. Farmersí switching to lettuce, which uses less water because itís cultivated only part of the year, from alfalfa, a thirsty year-round crop, helped push the lake to 1,087.6 feet (331.5 meters) above sea level as of Jan. 31. Thatís more than 1 foot higher than a year ago and above the benchmark of 1,075 feet, at which point regional water restrictions kick in —

(Francisco Kjolseth | Tribune file photo) The Colorado River as it winds through southeastern Utah. The Lake Powell Pipeline... January 28, 2018 — Utah spent $33 million on a pipeline application it never finished. The feds approved it anyway — If youíre hoping to understand Utahís drive to build the massive Lake Powell pipeline and what it might cost you, donít start with the stateís explanation of it all to the U.S. government. The thousands of pages Utah produced to justify the 140-mile, multibillion-dollar pipeline from Lake Powell to water districts in two southwestern Utah counties are inscrutable to most involved — the projectís opponents, government regulators, and even some of the people who wrote the documents —

January 25, 2018 — Water Battle Continues in Lincoln County — Local Lincoln County cattle operators say there is a lot of fight over water between themselves and sheep grazing operations run by the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA) —

The 140-mile Lake Powell Pipeline would pump 77 million gallons of water daily to Washington and Kane counties. January 23, 2017 — Utah is headed into a water battle it canít win — While states along the Colorado River plan for future shortages, Utah is betting on a big new diversion of water stored behind Glen Canyon Dam. Itís called the Lake Powell Pipeline, and last month the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission accepted Utahís licensing application to drain water from the reservoir. The federal agencyís acceptance triggers a new environmental analysis and public comment process for what would become the largest new diversion of the Colorado River. Costing billions of dollars, this would also be one of the stateís most expensive infrastructure projects —    [by Eric Balken, Eric is a contributor to Writers on the Range, the opinion service of High Country News. He is the executive director of the Glen Canyon Institute in Salt Lake City]

Las Vegas Review-Journal The forecasted flow for the Colorado River, seen near Willow Beach, Arizona, this coming year is bleak, as rain and snowfall in areas that feed the river have fallen below average. January 17, 2017 — Colorado Riverís forecast bleak — The first forecast for the Colorado River is in, and the outlook for the coming year is bleak. The National Weather Serviceís Colorado Basin River Forecast Center predicts the river will flow at about 54 percent of its average volume during the key runoff period from April to July. Thatís when the river usually swells with snowmelt from the Rockies and other ranges, but precipitation so far this winter has been well below normal across the region. The Salt Lake City-based forecast center released a report Jan. 3 showing December snow totals as low as 20 percent of average in some areas. Thereís still plenty of time for conditions to improve. The river basin tends to accumulate much of its snowpack in January, February and March —

Lake Powell, seen in this aerial shot taken January 27, 2017, is a reservoir on the Colorado River, straddling the border between Utah and Arizona.Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images January 16, 2018 — Plans for Utah Pipeline to Tap Colorado River Hit a Snag — A proposed pipeline would funnel Lake Powell water 140 miles to a growing region of Utah, but opponents question if imported water for the beleaguered Colorado is the best way to meet demand. A CONTROVERSIAL PIPELINE project that would pump Colorado River water to a rapidly growing corner of Utah passed a regulatory goal and also hit a regulatory snag on the same day, prompting the state to ask the federal government to delay further decisions until the snafu is worked out —

January 15, 2017 — Snowpack Near Record Lows Spells Trouble for Western Water Supplies — Months of exceptionally warm weather and an early winter snow drought across big swaths of the West have left the snowpack at record-low levels in parts of the Central and Southern Rockies, raising concerns about water shortages and economic damage. Drought spread across large parts of the Western United States this month, and storms that moved across the region in early January made up only a small part of the deficit. Runoff from melting snow is now projected to be less than 50 percent of average in key river basins in the central and southern Rockies —

January 12, 2017 — Dream killingí water order devastates Pahrump area residents — The Nye County Commission, sitting as the governing board of the town of Pahrump, voted by a narrow margin to forego pursuit of legal action against an order issued by the Nevada state engineer during a special meeting held Wednesday, Jan. 10. The decision sparked outrage among many and even brought some to tears as they blasted the state engineerís order as a dream killer — PV

January 09, 2018 — Not much snow is falling in the West. What a grim snowpack means for Nevada's water supply — A year after record winter storms boosted water supplies in Northern Nevada and the Colorado River, which provides Las Vegas with most of its water, officials are watching the weather take a sharp turn in the opposite direction. Snowpack in critical basins for Nevada is far lower than the historical norms, with few storms on the horizon. Nevada water experts cautioned that it was still too early in the season to draw conclusions but acknowledged that it would be hard to climb out of the early-season deficit. So the obvious question is: What does it mean for water supply? —

A light dusting of snow sits atop the mountains behind a red barn along Highway 285 south of Jefferson on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. January 06, 2018 — Colorado snowpack worst in more than 30 years in some areas leaving water suppliers on high alert — Colorado mountain snowpack shrunk to record-low levels this week, raising concerns about water supply, and some federal authorities calculated even big late snow – if it falls ó may not make up for the lag. Survey crews have measured snow depths in southwestern Colorado at 22 percent of normal, the upper Colorado River Basin at 65 percent of normal and the Arkansas River Basin at 49 percent of normal. National Weather Service meteorologists forecast limited snow through mid-January, though they also see a possibility that ocean-driven atmospheric patterns will shift by March and bring snow —

(Paul Fraughton | Tribune file photo) Glen Canyon Dam, with Lake Powell stretching behind it. Utah officials are seeking a delay in federal review of the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline, while they ask the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to clarify the extent of its jurisdiction over the water project January 06, 2018 — Utah reluctantly asks feds to push pause on the stateís Lake Powell Pipeline — In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, state officials ask that the massive water project be put on hold until feds clear up who has jurisdiction to approve it —

January 06, 2018 — Dry winter forecast appears more likely —

January 04, 2018 — Water treatment plant aims to keep chemical out of the Lake Mead — Las Vegas Review Journal

January 03,2018 — Dry start to winter prompts ugly forecast for Colorado River — The first forecast for the Colorado River is in, and the outlook for the coming year is bleak. The National Weather Serviceís Colorado Basin River Forecast Center predicts the river will flow at about 54 percent of its average volume during the key runoff period from April to July. Thatís when the river usually swells with snowmelt from the Rockies and other ranges, but precipitation so far this winter has been well below normal across the region — Las Vegas Review Journalk [Print PDF]

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