Topic: Water Strategy


Winter Storms Dramatically Increase Flagstaff Water Supply

Excerpt: According to the City of Flagstaff’s Utilities Division, the storms added more than a billion-and-a-half gallons of water to the city’s supplies. That’s more than half of all the water the city delivers to its customers in a year.

Excerpt: According to the National Weather Service, last month was the warmest February on record for Flagstaff, Winslow and Prescott with nearly two weeks of daytime highs reaching into the 60s. It was also dry, with snowfall for that month less than half of the February average. So far this season, Flagstaff has received about three-quarters of its normal snowfall.

Slick idea proposed to stretch water supplies

Excerpt: In drought-ridden US, water managers consider using a coating one molecule thick to reduce evaporation from reservoirs.

Excerpt: They propose to stretch dwindling water supplies by slowing down evaporation from reservoirs by means of a surface barrier of cheap, non-toxic, biodegradable chemicals just one molecule thick — two-millionths of a millimetre. The technology is far from proven, but it showed some potential in field tests in Texas last year.

Excerpt: Last summer, a field test in Texas attempted to overcome that problem. The US$325,000 test ran from July to October on Lake Arrowhead, a 21-square-kilometre reservoir that serves the city of Wichita Falls. Flexible Solutions International, a company in Victoria, Canada, that makes evaporation-reducing coatings for small water bodies, programmed a boat to run on autopilot and make a grid pattern across Lake Arrowhead spreading the coating behind it.

Supervisors to revisit reclaimed-water rules

Excerpt: The county supervisors on Monday will again discuss a proposed county ordinance dealing with reclaimed water.

Excerpt: District 5 Sup. Steve Moss of Fort Mohave said at a previous meeting that unless the Southwest sees significant precipitation to relieve the decades-old drought, the Phoenix and Southern California urban areas will see water shortages by 2017 with Mohave County impacted by shortages the following year.

Excerpt: The proposed ordinance would not affect residential homes but would deal with reclaimed water for agricultural, irrigation, manufacturing or landscaping uses.

Colorado to California: Hands off our water

Excerpt: Colorado is moving to keep tighter control over its own water supply, rankling drought-stricken western states like California.

Excerpt: James Eklund, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, initially gave some tough remarks in explaining his state’s intentions in an interview with The Associated Press. “If anybody thought we were going to roll over and say, 'OK, California, you're in a really bad drought, you get to use the water that we were going to use,' they're mistaken," he said.

Excerpt: Every state gets a predetermined share of the resource, a quantity divided up in 1922 under a federal compact. And while the 1922 Colorado River Compact governs the system, scientists now know the 93-year-old agreement was reached at a time when the region was going through an unusually wet period. States get their allowance regardless of whether they need more or less.

Whose Colorado River Is It?

Excerpt: Dividing Up a Single Water Source Among 30 Million People—and Leaving Some for Nature—Is a Tricky Business

Excerpt: Over 30 million people rely on the Colorado River for water—for purposes ranging from drinking to agriculture to power plants. But scientists predict that the river isn’t going to produce the amount of water it did in the past—or does today. Which is why the question of whether or not the river can survive is a timely one, said Arizona Republic water reporter Shaun McKinnon. McKinnon was moderating a Zócalo/ASU event attended by a full-house crowd at ASU Colleges at Lake Havasu City.

Excerpt: Ferris said that local economies were built on having secure water rights. Over the years, legislation gets piled up on those rights, and laws become interwoven and difficult to change.

Most people came to the West from the East, which was wet, said Hawes. The miners and farmers were the first to migrate—and the government needed to convince them that they could make a living here. Guarantees of a consistent water supply did the work of convincing them.

How Arizona delayed a looming water crisis

Excerpt: With Lake Mead dangerously low, Arizona leaders have forged a remarkable agreement to fend off shortages.

Excerpt: And what a solution it is: an agreement among a variety of Arizona, Nevada and California interests aimed at keeping enough water in Lake Mead to buy time for long-term solutions. It also changes thinking about the Colorado River, making the three states partners rather than competitors jostling for every drop.

Excerpt: And this really is just the first step, the quick patch on the leak. Lake Mead is falling because Arizona, California and Nevada take more than nature can replenish. Long-term solutions require finding more water.

City of El Paso to wean itself from river water

Excerpt: Coming in 2018 is perhaps the most dramatic step yet. The utility will begin reusing the water that runs out one of the city's four wastewater-treatment plants.

"We want to prepare for the real possibility that there will be no river water at all," said water utility spokeswoman Christina Montoya.

Excerpt: They think the climate in the river basin might be returning to historical norms after a few abnormally wet decades. Man-made global warming, which almost all climate scientists believe is happening, would only make the scarcity worse, they say.

Excerpt: The water is not appreciably different when it comes back out of water-utility wells, but for some, its trip through the ground might supply the "gap in time and space and imagination" that Fishman mentioned in the book.

As the water leaves the plant, however, it smells and tastes just like the water that comes out of any kitchen faucet in El Paso. No sudden cramps or urgent calls to the bathroom follow in the hours after drinking it.

Water utility officials say water from the Bustamante plant in the city's Southeast will be at least as clean as that coming from Hervey or the city's other water plants and will be among the cleanest drinking water available.

Glen Canyon release will send Colorado River surging

Excerpt: The experiment involves a four-day release of a large pulse of water -- about 130,000 acre feet -- from Lake Powell meant to raise water levels in the Colorado River and sweep sediment from its tributaries into the main stem. That sediment helps build up sandbars, which are important for wildlife and recreators alike, as well as maintain other ecosystems like that of the nonnative rainbow trout just downstream of the dam.

Excerpt: High-flow experimental releases became a longer-term part of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Glen Canyon Dam management protocol in 2012. Since then, Glen Canyon Dam has released between 42,300 cubic feet per second and 37,500 cubic feet per second over four days each November. This will be the third release under the protocol.

How not to squander Arizona's water legacy

Excerpt: The Salt River Project, the Central Arizona Project and the Groundwater Management Act are all examples of Arizonans recognizing critical needs and creating structures to deliver and manage our water supplies. More recently, the Groundwater Replenishment District and the Arizona Water Bank were formed to create more options for water preservation.

Excerpt: That legacy has enabled us to weather the current prolonged drought far more easily than other Western states, even while preserving agricultural use, holding down municipal water rates, avoiding mandatory rationing and banking water for future needs. As a state, we are currently using about the same amount of water we did in 1960, even as the population has increased nearly fivefold.

Excerpt: The issues of sharing, developing and managing water are at the center of our civilization in the arid Southwest. The Anasazi, the Hohokam and our Hispanic and Anglo forefathers all realized this. The legacy is ours to share, to celebrate and to protect. Let's get on with it.

Burning lemon trees in Yuma could mean water for Valley

Excerpt: Smoke rising from groves of lemon trees offers one dramatic visual clue to Arizona's increasingly complex water future: Groves here are going fallow, for a price, to test how much moisture farmers could spare for urban development.

Excerpt: But if the state continues to grow while, as government scientists predict, climate change continues to shrink the Colorado River, something has to give. Some of this region's farms are likely to prime the pump for profit.

Excerpt: The groundwater district is coming for a new dip into the river at exactly the time that other users fear the competition. Cities, including Phoenix, Mesa and Tempe, in the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association use CAP water directly instead of as an aquifer recharge.

"There's a lot of competition. There are shortages on the river that we're trying to deal with," association Executive Director Kathleen Ferris said.

"There is continuing concern within (the municipal suppliers) that this paradigm of allowing growth to proceed before water is in hand is not sustainable."

Arizona readying long-term plan on water

Excerpt: Arizona has a long history of meeting the challenges of developing water supplies necessary to live and thrive in this arid land.

Ingenuity, innovation and investment, coupled with widespread, dedicated support from a coalition of water users, elected officials, community, tribal, and business leaders, have provided the resilient, sustainable water portfolio we enjoy the benefit of today.

Excerpt: These systems are under stress. Yields from both the Colorado and our in-state rivers are reduced. We anticipate reductions in allocations to the Central Arizona Project, most likely starting in 2016.

Excerpt: ADWR is continuing collaborative work with interested parties as we chart our future, including joining with the Morrison Institute for Public Policy this fall in a facilitated discussion on strategies and priorities. Resolute and focused leadership will be required to ensure that future generations of Arizonans enjoy economic security supported by resilient, affordable water supplies.

These maps of water use show why the Western US is in trouble

Excerpt: The American West has been wrestling with drought for the past 15 years. California is now facing its worst dry spell in at least a century. So, not surprisingly, the question of how best to manage America's scarce freshwater supplies is coming up more frequently.

Excerpt: To that end, the Hamilton Project recently published a helpful primer, "Nine Economic Facts about Water in the United States." The whole thing's worth reading, but four maps and charts in particular stuck out. For starters, some of the driest states in the West actually have some of the highest rates of household water use:

Excerpt: The report notes that some cities, like Phoenix and Los Angeles, have begun to reform their pricing schemes so that heavier water users get charged more.

But this is hardly universal. In most parts of the United States, the price of water doesn't reflect the infrastructure costs of delivering that water or the environmental damage that excessive water withdrawals can cause. As long as that's the case, there are few market incentives to conserve or allocate water more efficiently.

Wait Until the Aquifers Are Drained

Excerpt: Aquifers provide us freshwater that makes up for surface water lost from drought-depleted lakes, rivers, and reservoirs. We are drawing down these hidden, mostly nonrenewable groundwater supplies at unsustainable rates in the western United States and in several dry regions globally, threatening our future.

Excerpt: Managing and conserving groundwater supplies becomes an urgent challenge as drought depletes our surface supplies. Because groundwater is a common resource—available to anyone with well—drilling equipment-cooperation and collaboration will be crucial as we try to protect this shrinking line of defense against a future of water scarcity.

Tucson looks at treating wastewater for drinking

Excerpt: Tucson is taking its first tentative dip into the sometimes turbulent waters of recycling treated sewage effluent for drinking.

Excerpt: Tucson Water has produced a detailed long-range plan and an accompanying timetable that calls for building a pilot project to recycle wastewater for potable use as soon as three years from now.

Excerpt: But as effluent’s use for drinking grows around the arid Southwest, it’s a water supply that many local officials say is inevitable, given the region’s ongoing drought and population growth. They see it as the region’s only sustainable, locally generated water supply, particularly given the strains on the Colorado River due to continued drought.

Study Urges Reuse and Conservation

Excerpt: Water conservation and reuse are being urged in a study that makes recommendations about addressing the Colorado River drought, which threatens the future well-being of Arizona and six other Western states.

Excerpt: He says everyone can all help out by trying to use less water in daily life. "People in Arizona can help save water by installing more efficient faucets, toilets, and switching to a desert landscape which requires far less water,” he points out. “We can all do our part and help ensure that we have enough water for the future." Rice adds the last decade of severe drought has left Colorado River levels at the two main storage reservoirs, Lake Mead in Nevada and Lake Powell in Utah, at historically low levels.

Water war bubbling up between California and Arizona

Excerpt: The year was 1934, and Arizona was convinced that the construction of Parker Dam on the lower Colorado River was merely a plot to enable California to steal its water rights.

Excerpt: The issue still is the Colorado River. Overconsumption and climate change have placed the river in long-term decline. It's never provided the bounty that was expected in 1922, when the initial allocations among the seven states of the Colorado River basin were penciled out as part of the landmark Colorado River Compact, which enabled Hoover Dam to be built, and the shortfall is growing.

Excerpt: That proposal has been pushed by the Glen Canyon Institute, a Salt Lake City-based environmental group, but faces hurdles in Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico, where residents fear that draining Lake Powell will only allow California, Arizona and Nevada to deprive them of their legal right to the river's flow.

No news is better news than good water news

Excerpt: Our View: Rising water levels at Lake Powell and a wise court ruling improve Arizona's water outlook.

Excerpt: Good water news in drought-stricken Arizona has been rare as rainfall in June.

But when it does arrive, it comes by the bucketful.

Perhaps the best water-related news so far this year is that the Rocky Mountain winter snowpack melting and flowing into the upper basin of the Colorado River is dramatically improving the water level of Lake Powell, the second-largest man-made reservoir in the U.S.

Excerpt: Still, the rise in water level, combined with rosier expectations for 2015, is a huge improvement over predictions as recent as last August, when the conservation services predicted at least two more years of declining levels.

Arizona Cities Could Face Cutbacks in Water

Excerpt: Arizona could be forced to cut water deliveries to its two largest cities unless states that tap the dwindling Colorado River find ways to reduce water consumption and deal with a crippling drought, officials of the state’s canal network said Tuesday.

The warning comes as the federal Bureau of Reclamation forecasts that Lake Mead, a Colorado River reservoir that is the network’s sole water source, will fall next month to a level not seen since the lake was first filled in 1938.

Excerpt: “We’re dealing with a very serious issue, and people need to pay attention to it,” Sharon Megdal, a University of Arizona water expert and board member of the Central Arizona Project, said in an interview. “The possibility of cutbacks of water deliveries to municipalities is higher than we’ve ever thought it was going to be.”

Excerpt: An end to the drought, followed by a few years of heavy rains, could rescue the states. But many now say that climate change would make that a temporary respite. Most scientists believe global warming will make an already arid region even drier in this century.

“We can’t expect to live on releases from the upper basin anymore,” Mr. McCann said. “The states need to come together and make hard choices so we can stem the decline of Lake Mead.”

Hard decisions for long-term water future?

Excerpt: More than century of planning has brought Arizona to this point, starting with the Salt River Project and decades of arduous negotiations that led to a supply of Colorado River water. So have the landmark Groundwater Management Act of 1980 and a system of banking some of the state's Colorado River allotment in aquifers.

Excerpt: If the Colorado River's flow continues to suffer, the U.S. Department of the Interior could declare a shortage as early as 2017. Under the agreement that established the CAP, Arizona's rights to the Colorado would take a hit before California loses a drop, triggering conservation steps that include reducing delivery to irrigated farms that use the majority of Arizona's water supply.

Excerpt: "When Arizonans can unquestionably turn on the tap and get water without question, we're doing our job," she said. "We don't want our customers to have to think about whether there will be water or not."

As for Prescott, the plans to import water have stalled - some believe because of a ballot measure limiting capital outlay to $40 million-voter-approved pieces, while others say it comes down to agreements with SRP or mitigating impacts on the Verde River, among other challenges.

Gray-water systems catching on in Tucson

Excerpt: Since 2008, Tucson has required plumbing in new homes to allow homeowners to set up gray-water systems to reuse water from bathroom sinks, showers and tubs as well as washing machines to water plants and lawns. Noting that a third of household wastewater typically can be reused as gray water, the city also offers a $1,000 rebate to homeowners installing permanent gray-water systems.

Excerpt: "We need to become much more efficient and creative at how we reuse," he said. "We need to recycle what we have multiple times and do it in the lowest-energy, highest-productive way."

Excerpt: The gray-water system at Reid Park Zoo's Conservation Learning Center complements a catchment system through which rain that hits the roof is used in its toilets, reducing the use of potable water inside by about half. Both systems tie into the zoo's overall conservation efforts, said Vivian VanPeenen, a zoo spokeswoman.

"The practice of conserving water and other natural resources is definitely effective for the zoo and the species we care for," she said.

Price a tool for water conservation in Arizona?

Excerpt: It is a complex calculation, but at the most fundamental level this much is true: The amount of water needed to have a lush, green lawn in Phoenix would yield a substantially higher water bill for a homeowner in Tucson.

Excerpt: As leaders ponder the long-term future of Arizona’s water supply, Hunting and others say that raising water prices, balanced against the fact that people must have water to survive, is an option for encouraging conservation and helping people better appreciate the true value of water.

“Water is heavily subsidized and way too cheap,” said Sandy Bahr, director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “Because of that it is not valued.”

Excerpt: These options would help fill a gap between water supply and demand that Tannler said may not be possible to address through conservation alone.

“Conservation certainly helps, but there may be a limit,” he said.

Michael J. Lacey, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, said in order to bridge an anticipated gap in water supply Arizona will need to start making plans that will manifest in the next 30 to 40 years.

“Everyone will be asked to shoulder some of the solution,” he said.

Pay water users to take less

Excerpt: Farmers, cities and power plant operators could soon be paid to cut their use of the Colorado River under a new interstate program aimed at keeping more water in Lake Mead and Lake Powell.

The four largest communities fed by the Colorado plan to pour millions of dollars into a fund to help farmers and industrial operations pay for efficiency improvements and conservation measures to cut their river water use.

Excerpt: The water authority board signed off on the conservation concept — and the $2 million — on April 17. Entsminger hopes to see a final agreement among the agencies and the federal government within a month or so. The first conservation projects could be funded as early as this fall, he said.

Excerpt: “We’re right on the verge of having to extend all of our launch ramps, but we expect to be able to get through this summer,” Vanover said. “It’s important for people to know that no matter what happens there will still be access to Lake Mead.”

Wichita Falls Sees Wastewater Recycling As Solution

Excerpt: Wichita Falls could soon become the first in the country where half of the drinking water comes directly from wastewater.

Excerpt: Mayor Glenn Barham says three years of extreme drought have changed life for 104,000 people living in Wichita Falls, which is about 140 miles northwest of Dallas.

“(There’s) no outside irrigation whatsoever with potable water. Car washes are closed one day a week. If you drain your pool to do maintenance you aren’t allowed to fill it,” he explained.

Excerpt: Nix says the extra treatment will eliminate unwanted minerals and pathogens like cryptosporidium and giardia.

“We just don’t have time to put the water out in a body of water, a wetlands, or lake and allow nature to take its course,” Nix said. “Inside the treatment plant, we speed those processes up so rather than wait several weeks for UV rays from the sun to disinfect or kill bacteria we do it in the plant using chlorine. It takes a matter of minutes to do it instead of weeks.”

An Innovative Conservation Fund for the Colorado River

Excerpt: The four largest cities that get their drinking water from the Colorado River are gearing up to pilot an innovative conservation scheme that pays farmers, industries and municipalities to reduce their use of the river’s water.

Excerpt: The fund would pay for voluntary reductions in water use – whether by fallowing farm fields, installing more efficient irrigation systems, recycling industrial supplies, or other means– but the savings would benefit the basin as a whole by increasing reservoir storage and thereby mitigating shortages.

Excerpt: By collaboratively creating an incentive for basin-wide conservation, the big four urban water users and the Bureau of Reclamation have an opportunity to bring more resilience and adaptability to the drought-stricken, overtapped Colorado River.

Colorado River water coming to Arizona

Excerpt: Economists from Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business estimated the economic impact of CAP’s 336-mile canal system on the state’s economy. They found a $100 billion annual economic benefit from the river water. The canals provide water supplies to Phoenix and other areas of the state. Without the canals, the Valley would not be able sustain itself or grow. Farms, industrial users — such as semiconductor manufacturers — as well as household users all benefit from the river water.


“Preserving this vital resource is foremost in our minds. The Colorado River is experiencing long-term drought and CAP’s focus is to continue to work diligently with our customers and stakeholders to ensure this resource is available to support the future of our state and Southwest region,” said CAP General Manager David Modeer.

Drought presses Las Vegas to conserve water

Excerpt: Future droughts and a warming climate change could spell trouble for the city's 2 million residents — and its 40 million annual visitors. Those people "better hope nothing goes wrong with the last intake," said water authority spokesman J.C. Davis.

"But if something does go wrong," he added, "we're in the business of making contingency plans."

For officials here, the scenario signifies a formidable job: providing water for the nation's driest city. Las Vegas uses more water per capita than most communities in America — 219 gallons of water per person every day — and charges less for it than many communities.

Excerpt: John Entsminger, the water authority's new general manager, says such seemingly careless spectacles as the elaborate fountains at the Bellagio resort feature recycled water. "The Strip uses only 3% of the region's water but supplies 70% of its economy," he said. "That's not a bad bargain."

Excerpt: Entsminger, the head of the water authority, believes the American Southwest must fight its water crisis together. He said the seven states drawing water from the Colorado River collectively form the world's fifth-largest economy — just behind Germany but ahead of France and Britain.

San Joaquin Valley sinking

Excerpt: Now that bounty is threatened by a crisis of geological proportions: The land is sinking – crippling the region’s irrigation and flood control infrastructure and damaging aquifers that are buffers against climate change.

Nature, though, is not to blame. This problem is self-inflicted, driven by the frontier-style exploitation of the last unregulated resource in California: groundwater.

Excerpt: Today’s drama is only the latest chapter in a long-running saga of sinking. Three generations ago, so much groundwater was pumped from aquifers that half the valley sank like a giant pie crust, sagging 28 feet near Mendota and inflicting damage to irrigation canals, pipelines, bridges, roads and other infrastructure.

Excerpt: “Obviously, nobody wants to be regulated any more than we are,” Michael said. “But I think maybe we have to have somebody step in. People are probably going to be upset that I would say something like that. We have to find ways to protect the resource that we have.

“There are all kinds of surface regulations (for water) and you’ve got this Wild West underneath the ground. The chickens are coming home to roost, unfortunately,” Michael said.

A Comparison of Water Rates

Excerpt: A first of its kind survey of residential water use and prices in 30 metropolitan regions in the United States has found that some cities in rain-scarce regions have the lowest residential water rates and the highest level of water use. A family of four using 100 gallons per person each day will pay on average $34.29 a month in Phoenix compared to $65.47 for the same amount in Boston.

Excerpt: “The reason why rates are so low in the Great Lakes region is proximity to abundant water,” said Nick Schroeck, executive director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center in Detroit. “Moving water takes an extraordinary amount of energy. Energy costs are higher in arid regions where water has to be brought from far away. For us, you look at the larger cities, and they are right on one of the lakes. It’s easy to get water to the population centers.”

Excerpt: “Water use is generally not publicized much outside of droughts,” said Drew Beckwith, a water specialist with Western Resource Advocates. “Water sort of has a technical side that often doesn’t get communicated well to the public.”

Colorado River Water Managers Plan for Persistent Drought

Excerpt: The severe risks of an extended drought in the Colorado River Basin – a shutdown of hydropower generation, functionally empty lakes, and restrictions on water use – are forcing the basin’s seven states to consider unprecedented changes in how they manage a scarce resource.

Excerpt: “We’ve never had to do this before because we never planned for this degree of low water storage,” Don Ostler, executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission, an administrative body, told Circle of Blue. “We want to plan for extreme hydrology the likes of which we have never seen.”

Excerpt: “We’re certainly having discussions about existing drought and contingency planning for an ongoing sustained drought,” said Colby Pellegrino, who handles Colorado River issues for Southern Nevada Water Authority, the state’s largest water utility. “But we’re not to a point where we can say what those options will be.”

Arizona’s long-term water future

Excerpt: More than century of planning has brought Arizona to this point, starting with the Salt River Project and decades of arduous negotiations that led to a supply of Colorado River water. So have the landmark Groundwater Management Act of 1980 and a system of banking some of the state’s Colorado River allotment in aquifers.

Excerpt: In January, an Arizona Department of Water Resources report pointed to the potential for a long-term imbalance between available water and demands over the next century. It said that Arizona will need to develop additional water supplies over the next 25 to 100 years to keep pace with growth.

Excerpt: “What we need right now is a deeper understanding by policymakers about what our situation is,” he said. “I want someone who will look at the complex solutions, not the short easy ones.”
Pickard, the CAP board president, said this election year will test which politicians are ready to make Arizona’s water future a priority.
“When Arizonans can unquestionably turn on the tap and get water without question, we’re doing our job,” she said. “We don’t want our customers to have to think about whether there will be water or not.”

Colorado River deluge to bring wetlands back in Mexico

Excerpt: For half a century, the Colorado River’s great dams and the 30 million people who siphon water from the reservoirs behind them have effectively killed the river at Morelos Dam, west of Yuma.

Excerpt: “The river has provided to us — to humans — for many years the water to grow our crops, our food,” said Francisco Zamora, who leads the Sonoran Institute’s efforts to restore the lost forests of the delta. The Tucson nonprofit works on landscape conservation and quality-of-life issues in the West.

An eight-week flood began Sunday with the opening of a gate at Morelos Dam, which normally sends the river sideways into a Mexican canal. It will be a watershed moment for cross-border cooperation on the environment and on an increasingly pinched water supply.

Arizona hopes snow-making experiment leads to water

Excerpt: As a pair of storms moved over the mountains of southeastern Wyoming last week, a set of propane-fueled machines was poised to shoot silver iodide particles into the clouds, hoping to goad them into producing more snow.

Excerpt: Over the past eight years, the Central Arizona Project, the agency that operates the canal that directs Colorado River water into the state, has spent $798,600 to fund small-scale cloud-seeding operations in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, which received a blast of spring snow over the weekend.

Excerpt: Cullom was tasked with looking into the science behind it. He was initially skeptical, but he became a convert after looking into the research.

He persuaded CAP executives and the board to spend the money. The Southern Nevada Water Authority is also helping pay for the effort.

"The equipment is inexpensive," Cullom said. "Let's see if it works."

Cities committed to wise water use

Excerpt: Potential water shortages have been in the news lately, reminding us desert-dwellers that we need to use water wisely. While others talk about the need to conserve, the cities of the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association walk the walk, implementing comprehensive programs to shrink demand, with plans in place to manage drought and preserve our water supplies for future generations.

Excerpt: Maybe you've heard of Water — Use It Wisely. AMWUA cities developed this program to help our residents to conserve, and more than 400 communities and organizations across North America have adopted it. Our cities also implement 305 management practices to reduce water use, including water rates to encourage conservation, rebates for converting turf to water-efficient landscaping, and water-saving plumbing retrofits for low-income residents.

Wise water use is the key to desert living. The AMWUA cities are committed to the task.

Testing Recycled Waste Water Complete

Excerpt: Wichita Falls water users should have recycled waste water coming to their homes and businesses in May.

Excerpt: Today was the last of 40 days of testing required by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to ensure the water is safe to drink.

All preliminary tests show the recycled water is safe to drink. Officials at the Cypress Treatment Plant say so far the project has had very few glitches.

Excerpt: If they say the water is safe, then officials will take 7 and a half million gallons of the water that gets flushed down toilets and washed down drains to the River Road Waste Water Plant, then pump it back to the Cypress Water Treatment Plant. That water will go through 4 treatment process, turning it into 5 million gallons of recycled water, blending it with 5 million gallons of water from Lake Arrowhead and Kickapoo for a total of ten million gallons coming from the treatment plant to faucets.

Day of reckoning for parched Southwest

Excerpt: When it comes to water in America, this truth is self-evident: We are guzzlers from sea to shining sea. Nowhere, though, are the effects of our thirst as visible and self-destructive as they are in the Southwest, the fastest-growing and driest region of the country, where just one long and lonely river, the Colorado, must slake the needs of seven states.

Excerpt: It's not seriously disputed that the region's water shortfall is large and will become worse, even in the absence of drought. Likewise, it is widely acknowledged that increasingly strict conservation measures will soon become the norm in the region. What is striking, however, is the reluctance of state officials, builders, and others to acknowledge two more truths that the weight of evidence points to: first, that the relentless growth the Southwest has become accustomed to over the last half-century is unsustainable; second, that either in a planned way executed over time to cushion shock or disruptively after more years of whistling past the graveyard, growth of population and industry will slow and stop.

Excerpt: "The Western dream," he says, "is going to come with an asterisk that says 'P.S. Bring your own water.'"

Dry with chance of shortage

Excerpt: There's a better than 50 percent chance of an official water shortage being declared in 2016 for the Lower Colorado River Basin as a result of the drought that has gripped the river's watershed for the last 14 years.

Excerpt: That's if the current trend continues, Daniel Bunk, a hydrologist for the Lower Colorado Region with the the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, told the Colorado River Citizens Forum Wednesday during an update on the status of the Colorado River Basin.

He noted that 2000 to 2013 was the driest 14-year period in more than 100 years of historical record. And based on tree ring studies, it is the fourth or fifth driest period in the past 1,200 years.

Excerpt: If a shortage is declared by the Secretary of the Interior, Arizona would bear by far the biggest impact, according to an agreement in 2007 that established shortage sharing guidelines. Under the guidelines, Arizona, which is allocated 2.8 million acre-feet of Colorado River water a year, would receive 320,000 acre-feet less water. Nevada would receive 13,000 acre-feet less water and Mexico 50,000 acre-feet less. California would not be impacted.

Colorado River faces critical snow season

Excerpt: After 14 years of record drought, it will take an unusually wet year — one like the basin saw in 2011 — to stave off the first-ever water shortages on the overdrawn river and slow the decline of its two main reservoirs.

Lake Mead, the source for 90 percent of the Las Vegas Valley’s water supply, has seen its surface fall by more than 100 feet since the drought began. Current projections call for it to lose another 25 vertical feet of water and sink to a record low by November 2014.

Excerpt: “This is an alarming trend, and one that we would really like to see come to an end,” said water authority spokesman J.C. Davis. “Even if we have an ‘average’ year on the Colorado this year, Lake Mead is projected to continue falling. In order to make a significant dent, we would need at a minimum something on the order of 150 percent of normal.”

Excerpt: Each lake is now more than half empty, and the combined amount of water left in them is nearing its lowest point since Powell was filled for the first time.

City-school agreement could help save water

Excerpt: As part of an ongoing agreement between the city and the school district, Lake Havasu City public schools will make irrigation upgrades allowing water conservation improvements if city leaders OK the plan Tuesday.

Excerpt: The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation awarded the city a grant of nearly $201,500 to help the city implement a water conservation plan, which includes installation of smart irrigation controller systems at school district sites. That conservation plan, previously approved by the Bureau of Reclamation and the city, is required by the bureau and the city’s Colorado River entitlement contract, according to a city staff report.

Excerpt: Lake Havasu Unified School District has irrigation systems that are up to 42 years old, leaky and inefficient, according to the report. It is estimated that about 57 acre feet of water per year could be saved with system upgrades, the report states.

Arizona's water management cited as way to conserve

Excerpt: WASHINGTON - The director of the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association told a Senate subcommittee this week that there is no "silver bullet" to the problem of rising demand for water from the Colorado River.

Excerpt: Kathleen Ferris pointed to Arizona's years of successful water management policies that have kept water use at virtually the same level since 1957, despite an exploding population. But while conservation and reuse are essential, Ferris said other measures need to be taken, such as the augmentation of supplies.

West must strive for water sustainability

Excerpt: For more than a century, solving the West's water challenges has involved building new dams, pipelines and canals to "make the desert bloom."

Supported by a vast reservoir of federal dollars, the so-called Reclamation Era defined the character of the modern West, with its sprawling cities and agricultural empires. That era ended on Dec. 12, when the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released the "Colorado River Basin Water Demand and Supply Study," a landmark report that gives the 40 million inhabitants of the Colorado River basin a glimpse of a very different future.

Excerpt: The story it tells is one that the American West needs to hear. It starts with the recognition that the human demands on the Colorado River already substantially exceed the naturally-available water supply. What's more, without a significant change in course in the coming decades, demands on the Colorado River will exceed supply by an average of 25 percent -- some 3.2 million acre-feet. That's about eight times the amount of water used each year by Las Vegas.

Christmas trees are a gift for fish

Excerpt: The trees decompose around pipes and concrete, helping them grow a skin of mosses and algae that serve as fish food. The artificial reefs also offer places for young fish to hide from predators.

Excerpt: What nature once provided — a steady source of organic material such as brush and uprooted trees — disappeared when the once wild and muddy river was tamed.

By the late 1980s, Lake Havasu's now crystal clear waters harbored few places where newly spawned fish could find shelter from predators. Fish populations were a fraction of what they had been a generation before.

Excerpt: As the trees and brush decomposed, the pipe and concrete structure grew a biological skin of mosses and algae that was then colonized by insects. In addition to providing shelter, the Christmas tree structures also became a source of fish food.

Scuba divers check sites annually and have found that fish are drawn to Christmas trees as much as Santa is.

"When they started, they could count all of the fish at any spot on their fingers," Koch said. "Progressively, they found more fish — way, way more fish — than they can count."

Plans for controversial pipeline project

Excerpt: Environmental and groundwater management plans for a controversial pipeline project that would siphon roughly 2.5 million acre-feet of groundwater from High Desert aquifers over 50 years is to go before the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Monday.

Excerpt: Opponents of the project allege Cadiz is overestimating the amount of natural precipitation recharging the groundwater basins in the Bristol and Fenner valleys and that springs within the Mojave National Preserve link to the aquifers and could be jeopardized should the project move forward.

How desalination works

Excerpt: Five years ago, the Santa Cruz Water Department and neighboring Soquel Creek Water District formed an alliance to build a seawater desalination plant, one that would provide drought protection for the city and allow the district to reduce pumping from its overdrafted aquifers.

Excerpt: The environmental analysis of the plant, due late this year, will discuss subsurface intakes -- which regulators prefer because of the fewer potential impacts on marine life -- and why studies dating back to 2001 determined there were geological constraints. That has left the city to consider open-ocean intake at one of seven potential sites, each of which will require an offshore pipeline, pump station and new infrastructure for transporting the water to the plant.

Excerpt: Water is brought in from an open-ocean intake system, the design and location of which has yet to be determined. The city has anticipated needing up to 6.3 million gallons of water each day to produce 2.5 million gallons of drinking quality water, according to its intake study.

Bay Delta Conservation Plan

Excerpt: With a price tag in the tens of billions, the proposed Sacramento-San Joaquin water conveyance system is a financial heavyweight of a project. Five years of construction would create an historic new piece of California’s infrastructure that would funnel water from the Sacramento River Delta southward through the city of Tracy and beyond. Ultimately, the project would move water toward the thirsty cities and farmland of southern California.

Excerpt: An independent analysis of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, which imports the vast majority of its water from the SWP, estimates that the tunnel project would increase LADWP water rates by $273 to $546 per acre-foot by 2020, or 24 to 48 percent. The same review recommends conservation, water reuse, and even desalination of groundwater as financially favorable alternatives to importing water from a highly expensive SWP.

Excerpt: The continued life of the BDCP depends on finding vastly different alternatives to the current plan, and not just raising the cap on maximum water exports as Brown proposed in a meeting this month. It’s going to take something innovative, something ingenious, and something that’s not exactly the same plan from thirty years ago.

Desalination no panacea for Calif. water woes

Excerpt: In the Central California coastal town of Marina, a $7 million desalination plant that can turn salty ocean waves into fresh drinking water sits idle behind rusty, locked doors, shuttered by water officials because rising energy costs made the plant too expensive.

Excerpt: Squeezing salt from the ocean to make clean drinking water is a worldwide phenomenon that has been embraced in thirsty California, with its cycles of drought and growing population. There are currently 17 desalination proposals in the state, concentrated along the Pacific where people are plentiful and fresh water is not.

Excerpt: Still, desalination will be an important part of the Central Coast's future: the state ordered water suppliers to stop drawing from the Carmel River, its main source of the precious resource, starting in 2017. Even officials in Marina, with its shuttered plant, see a future in which demand will require their current desalination plant to resume operation and are planning another, larger plant to help make up for the expected water loss.

"Water politics in Monterey County is a blood sport," said Jim Heitzman, general manager of the Marina Coast Water District.

Water Conservation On a Philosophical Level

Excerpt: Water is a precious resource for much of the world’s population, but most Americans take it for granted that clean water will flow when they turn the spigot. Joseph Love provides a global perspective on our thirst for water.

Excerpt: Globally, our thirst for water increases by 640 trillion liters every year. Obviously, if the amount of water available is constant but our demand for it increases hugely and regularly, we have to be wise in the way we use it. However, the problem is that how we use water (and how much we use) has little effect on total collective consumption.

Excerpt: Our water use is deeply ingrained in our culture as it is in all cultures. In India, water is available for a couple of hours at a time throughout the day. In Kenya, shallow wells are routinely contaminated and, ultimately, water obtained from many is undrinkable. Less than half the world’s population is within walking distance to clean drinking water. Half that number doesn’t have access to clean water at all. And in terms of dams, the 35 dams on the Euphrates River create reservoirs so vast that they lose nearly two cubic miles of water a year due to evaporation, compared to Lake Mead’s less than one-quarter of a cubic mile.

Excerpt: In America, we’re tremendously lucky to have the infrastructure that we do. We’ve knocked out huge numbers of water-related illnesses by having treated municipal supplies. We’re never far from a water source, and we can always find a local pool to hop in on a hot day. There has to be a shift in perception that this is not the norm, and that it doesn’t necessarily reflect a healthy ecosystem behind the scenes. Water we use everyday comes from a natural supply, and when we use a gallon for ourselves, we take a gallon from another living thing. Water use has to be pre-empted by a simple question: am I treating water like a precious, 4.3 billion year-old artifact?

EPA war on coal threatens Tucson water supply

Excerpt: According to a report from, “Owners of the Navajo Generating Station say an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to clear the air in the region’s national parks may push the plant into an unacceptable financial situation. They’ve indicated it could force a shutdown as early as 2017.” “A shutdown of the plant would put nearly 1,000 people out of work on the Navajo Indian Reservation that is already deeply mired in unemployment and poverty.” “The owners insist they cannot spend more than $1 billion on environmental improvements without a guarantee they’ll be allowed to operate beyond 2019. The owners are several public agencies and utilities, including the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Tucson Electric Power and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.”

Excerpt: The new “haze” rule from EPA could cause NGS to shut down, eliminating a major contributor to the economy of the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe, the city of Page, Coconino County, and the state of Arizona. And, a shutdown would stop the pumps supplying water to Southern Arizona. The EPA ‘haze” rule will cause three of five generators at the coal-fired Four Corners Power Plant in northwest New Mexico to shut down also.

Sustainable water strategy for business

Excerpt: Slowly but surely the issue of water sustainability is moving up the business agenda, with water strategies set to take their place alongside targets for carbon and energy. This was the overriding message at a recent conference on the global water challenge.

Excerpt: "The main reason water is placed low on a company's sustainability agenda is because the cost is minimal when compared with things like electricity," he explains. "But you can't look at water in isolation; it is intrinsically linked to energy usage and carbon emissions. If you have water-intensive processes, you have to consider the carbon and monetary costs of supplying that water, heating it and treating it after use."

Excerpt: Some companies, mindful that the issue of water scarcity is not one that can be addressed in isolation, are already looking at ways of cutting water use right across their supply chain, while others, most notably big corporations such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, are actively collaborating to find ways of using water more sustainably.


Managing Water in the West
Established in 1902, the Bureau of Reclamation is best known for the dams, powerplants, and canals it constructed in the 17 western states. These water projects led to homesteading and promoted the economic development of the West. Reclamation has constructed more than 600 dams and reservoirs including Hoover Dam on the Colorado River and Grand Coulee on the Columbia River.