The day of reckoning came and went, with no concrete plan from the states to cut 2-4 million acre-feet of Colorado River basin water use, and no federal action to force those cuts. The can was officially kicked down the road, beyond the initial 60-day window Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton put the seven Colorado Basin states on notice of back in June.
But just because such federal action didn’t come in mid-August, it might still be coming, because, as reported by Water Desk Editor Heather Sackett, quoting Jim Prairie, an engineer and modeling expert with the Bureau of Reclamation, “If 2023’s inflow is like 2022, the 11th driest year, we would still need an additional 2.5 million acre-feet on average to stay above” critical water-level thresholds designed to preserve water delivery and power production at lakes Powell and Mead.
So, the writing remains on the wall, and last week, representatives of some of the most populated cities relying on Colorado River water raised their hands to offer something in response to the crisis.
But whether that something amounts to much remains to be seen, as Sackett’s most recent story explains. The cities’ offer includes a pledge to replace non-functional turf grass by 30%, while continuing to implement conservation measures that have allowed the cities — including Denver, Aurora, Las Vegas and Los Angeles — to cut water use by 1.15 million acre-feet since 2000 while at the same time adding 3.7 million people to their communities. But the offer does not include a timeline or target reduction goal for any new efforts, nor any certainty that there will be more water in the Colorado River as a result.
As noted by Denver Water spokesperson Todd Harrtman in a statement that we received after publication of the article, “We believe these commitments, when realized, will have the effect of stretching our own water supply further, reducing diversions from the Colorado River. How much, if any, of this water ultimately makes it to Lake Powell depends on decisions and actions outside of our control. For Lake Powell to benefit meaningfully, we need collective action of all water users.” (Note: All users includes agricultural water rights holders, who control 80% of the basin’s allocations.)
Also, don’t Aspen miss summer precipitation totals in this week’s Data Dashboard and new case incidence falling into the double digits at Tracking the Curve.
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Vague and voluntary proposals may do little to help Colorado River
No strong action from feds and no agreement among states
By Heather Sackett | August 27, 2022
Berggren said we are starting to see voluntary collaboration start to break down and that it might be time for federal intervention.
Data dashboard: August is the rainiest month of the year so far
Precipitation was above-average this summer at Aspen airport.
By Laurine Lassalle | August 31, 2022
• Paid occupancy in Aspen reached 75.5% in July, down from 86.4% last year.
• The Fork ran at 106% of average on Aug. 28 below Maroon Creek, up from 89% last week.
• Lake Powell’s elevation has lost one foot since last week.
Tracking the Curve
Documenting COVID-19 in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties
By Laurine Lassalle | August 30, 2022
Pitkin County’s COVID seven-day new-case incidence rate dropped from around 127 per 100,000 on Aug. 18 to 80 on Aug. 29. The county’s test-positivity rate is also down to about 15%.
Garfield County Latino Committee calls for more bilingual 911 dispatchers
“Currently, two of the county’s 21 emergency dispatchers are bilingual in English and Spanish, Stephens said. To interpret communications that come into the emergency call center in Spanish and other languages besides English, the authority uses the real-time interpretation service Voiance.”
Source: postindependent.com | Read more
Don’t call it a ‘drought’: Climate scientist Brad Udall views Colorado River crisis as the beginning of aridification
“According to Udall, [aridification] also means “declining snowpacks, it’s earlier runoff, it’s a shorter winter, it’s more rain, less snow, it’s higher temps. It’s drying soils, it’s severe fires, it’s forest mortality, it’s a warm, thirsty atmosphere.’ The atmosphere, and the role it plays in our water cycle, is part of the reason for Udall’s skepticism throughout a rainy August.”
Source: vaildaily.com | Read more
Bennet: U.S. shouldn’t dictate Colorado River water cuts
“Bennet declined to offer details about what he described as a ‘backstop’ to state efforts, but he emphasized that the bill will ‘not look like the federal government dictating outcomes for states. It would look like the federal government providing resources to support the consensus that states reach.’”
Source:eenews.com | Read more
What must happen to save the Colorado River, now that the feds aren’t stepping in
“The federal Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees operation of the lakes, declined to offer any additional deadlines for new plans, after the seven states that receive Colorado River water were unable to agree on anything. It also backed away from the threat it made in June of dictating cuts if states couldn’t save enough water. For now, all actions are voluntary. That’s a mistake. But if these are the cards we’re dealt, what needs to happen now?”
Source: azcentral.com | Read more
Frisch denounces Biden’s student loan forgiveness
“‘While we need to address the high cost of higher education, I oppose President Biden’s student-loan forgiveness plan, which is an improper use of executive action that bypasses Congress in spending hundreds of billions of dollars,’ Frisch said in a statement.”
Source: aspendailynews.com | Read more
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