“Tuesday was rigging day. The day that two groups of people from across the country would be in Arizona inflating rafts to launch on the Colorado River, loading food and camping gear, and strapping it all down so it doesn’t end up in the water.
“Southeast of Las Vegas at another federal tourist attraction, it was business as usual. Hoover Dam’s visitors services remained open to the public despite the government shutdown. That’s because operation of the facility is not dependent on funds appropriated by Congress.
“The government shutdown will, however, close Lake Mead National Recreation Area.”
From the Water in the West Western Water Forum blog:
“When John Wesley Powell descended the Colorado River for the first time, he and his party were frequently confronted with blind turns and unknown consequences around each bend in the river. They had no maps to guide them and their equipment was only marginally suited to the task at hand. As the saying goes, ‘the more things change, the more they remain the same.’ With more than 20,000 people rafting the river each year, navigation is no longer an issue, but the River is still riddled with dangerous blind spots.
“The Southern Nevada Water Authority board has signed off a new tunneling project at Lake Mead that officials describe as an emergency meant to avoid an emergency.
“Thursday’s unanimous vote essentially ratifies a project already underway that would extend the life of the oldest and shallowest of two intake pipes and pumping stations the community now uses to draw about 90 percent of its drinking water supply from the reservoir.”
“The Colorado River Basin has a problem: the ongoing drought that began in 2000 is one of the worst in a thousand years. While demand for water continues to grow, climate change is causing supplies to dwindle. We need to take aggressive steps now toward solving this imbalance and protecting the vibrant economy of the Southwest.
“The Imperial Irrigation District hosted a public workshop Wednesday to discuss the preservation of the IID’s water rights and the challenges posed by the massive water transfer at the heart of the Quantification Settlement Agreement.
“Yet, more than a year after the IID adopted an alternative approach to the QSA and less than two months after the validity of the transfer was upheld in court, the message from the district’s attorneys is essentially the same: The IID and the farm community must make a reasonable effort to conserve Colorado River w
“Although recent storms in Colorado dumped a year’s worth of rain in under a week and flooded many out of their homes, officials say the magnitude of water is unlikely to improve conditions on the Colorado River in the near term, where 14 consecutive years of drought and urban growth are squeezing water supplies.”
“Plaintiffs and defendants in the recently decided coordinated Quantification Settlement Agreement lawsuits have filed motions to recoup attorneys’ fees, with one party seeking nearly $53 million.
“The Morgan/Holtz Parties seek $52,762,358.62 from Imperial Irrigation District, San Diego County Water Authority, Metropolitan Water District, Coachella Valley Water District, state of California, city of Escondido and Vista Irrigation District, defendants in the lawsuits.”
“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. …
“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.
“Actor and environmentalist Robert Redford remembers with awe the first time he floated on the Colorado River — and with shock the first time he learned that the lifeblood of the Grand Canyon and the entire Southwest doesn’t reach the sea.
“So tapped is the Colorado by the seven states that use its watershed, from Wyoming and Colorado past Yuma to the Gulf of California, that it rarely ever flows to that Mexican inlet. The river has run dry since 1998.
“With Lake Mead shrinking and a new deep-water straw still far from finished, the Southern Nevada Water Authority plans to declare an emergency and fast-track a new $12 million construction project aimed at securing the valley’s water supply through next summer. …
“In the summer of 1983 the authorities released vast amounts of water into the Colorado River to relieve the pressure on Arizona’s Glen Canyon dam. The dangerous surge of water led to evacuations downstream, but for Kenton Grua, Rudi Petschek, and Steve Reynolds the flood presented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“In his new book The Emerald Mile – the name of the wooden dory that made the trip – Kevin Ferdarko chronicles their record-breaking and illegal run though the canyon.
“The way that Imperial Irrigation District uses its entitlement of Colorado River water is being scrutinized once again.
“A letter from Southern Nevada Water Authority to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service questions whether the IID’s delivery of water to the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge is permissible under federal law.”
“The Imperial Irrigation District held a public meeting Wednesday to discuss water conservation measures with the people they impact the most — Imperial Valley farmers.
“Although the IID holds senior water rights to Colorado River water, it is under heavy scrutiny by regulators and other water agencies as it repays past water overruns and fulfills its water transfer obligations.”