Newsletter Article

Water Reports and Studies

There was a plethora of huge and pressing global water reports and studies in the news over the last quarter of 2014.

The United States of Watersheds, Courtesy of the Washington Post

John Wesley, the 19th century geologist and explorer, who navigated the Colorado River in 1869 and 1872, realized that the limited water in the arid West would eventually lead to conflict between the states. Therefore, he suggested the boundaries of Western states be determined by watersheds—the topographical basins that funnel surface water to a single exit point. John Lavey thought that was a pretty good idea. So Lavey, a land use planner at the Sonoran Institute in Bozeman, Montana, set about to recreate Powell’s vision—but this time, instead of stopping in the West, he crossed the Rocky Mountains. Sticking with a maximum of 50 states, here are the boundaries Lavey drew, dictated by North American watersheds:

Books

The WIP has once again added a number of new book titles, including books-on-tape, to its lending library this Fall.

Encounters with the Archdruid, book review by Laura Spann, SWCD

Encounters with the Archdruid (1971) takes a different angle at the traditional biography. Rather than simply writing a select memoir or the life story of fervent conservationist David Brower, author John McPhee observes his interactions with three men from disparate walks of life.


The Mancos Project

Settlement and irrigation of the Mancos Valley began about 1876. The natural flow of the Mancos River during the months of July, August, and September is very low, and the irrigation water supply for those months inadequate. By 1893, when a state adjudication of water was made, late summer demands for irrigation water far exceeded the supply. To alleviate the shortage, three small reservoirs storing approximately 1,500 acre-feet of water were built by local irrigation organizations. In 1937, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation investigations led to the conclusion that the Jackson Gulch Reservoir site, an offstream storage basin, was the only site of sufficient size to furnish an adequate project water supply.

US-China Pact Includes Water-Energy Research Provisions

In November, President Obama and President Jinping of China announced new targets for reducing the amount of heat-trapping gases that their countries release into the atmosphere. This was a historic move that both sides hope will catalyze a global climate agreement in Paris next year to rein in carbon emissions and avoid harmful ecological changes. The two powers will work together in several areas of shared interests. They will collaborate to develop technology that pulls carbon out of the air, work on urban planning ideas, welcome trade delegations for green technology, and test new solar energy facilities. The agreement also expands the mission of a joint energy research program to include, for the first time, investigations of the connections between water and energy use.

Study: US Using Less Water

A study by local, state, and federal officials tracking water use has found that levels have dropped to those of at least 40 years ago. "This is the first time we've seen this large a decline nationally," said Molly Maupin, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and lead author of the study, Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2010.

Colorado River Water Conservation Programs

In October the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBOR) began soliciting project proposals in the Lower Basin states for water conservation from Colorado River entitlement holders in Arizona, California, and Nevada. Demand management and conservation measures are also being discussed for water users in the river's Upper Basin as a part of a Contingency Planning process to address future shortages. The Central Arizona Project, Denver Water, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Southern Nevada Water Authority, and the USBOR are providing up to $11 million to pay for new Colorado River “System Conservation Agreements” as pilot projects.


Coloradans Want Strong Conservation and Efficiency in State Water Plan

More than 18,000 people across Colorado have sent messages supporting smart water policies such as increased conservation and efficiency to be prioritized in the Colorado State Water Plan. This message mirrors a recent poll that confirms voters understand the importance of conserving water and preserving rivers and streams for future generations. “Voters believe that Coloradans can meet their water needs by reducing water use by 10 percent by 2020 through conservation, rather than building new diversion projects,” said Lori Weigel, a partner at Public Opinion Strategies. “A two-thirds majority of Colorado voters say we need to change the way the state manages our water.” Three key findings in the poll show: 
 
  1. 90 percent of voters say a priority for the Water Plan should be to keep Colorado’s rivers healthy and flowing.
  2. 78 percent of voters prefer using water conservation and recycling instead of diverting water from rivers in Western Colorado to the Front Range.
  3. 88 percent of voters support a statewide goal of reducing water use in cities and towns by 10 percent by 2020. 

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