Arizona Governor Doug Ducey steered away from the term “climate change” in order to garner political support for the state’s Colorado River drought plan, he indicated Friday in an interview with a Pima Community College newspaper. In that interview, he also avoided making any connection between climate change and the “drier future” (his preferred phrase) that Arizona faces. His omission bordered on a denial of the established links between the two.
The strategy of turning to groundwater pumping will test the limits of Arizona’s regulatory system for its desert aquifers, which targets some areas for pumping restrictions and leaves others with looser rules or no regulation at all. In Pinal County, which falls under these groundwater rules, the return to a total reliance on wells reflects a major turning point and raises the possibility that this part of Arizona could again sink into a pattern of falling groundwater levels — just as it did decades ago, before the arrival of Colorado River water.
It’s all up to the Imperial Irrigation District. The fate of a seven-state plan to address dwindling Colorado River water supply now appears to rest squarely with the sprawling southeastern California water district. Its neighbor to the north, the Coachella Valley Water District, voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve interstate agreements that would conserve water for use by 40 million people and vast swaths of agricultural lands.
Arizona and California aren’t done finishing a plan that would establish how states in the Colorado River Basin will ensure water for millions of people in the Southwest, said the head of the agency running the negotiations. … One challenge comes from the Imperial Irrigation District, a water utility that serves the Imperial Valley in southeastern California. It hasn’t signed California’s plan because it wants $200 million to restore the vanishing Salton Sea, the state’s largest lake.
A notice published recently in the Federal Register is not sitting well with Imperial Irrigation District. That notice, submitted by the Department of Interior through the Bureau of Reclamation and published on Feb. 1, calls recommendations from the governors of the seven Colorado River Basin state for protective actions the Department of Interior should take in the absence of a completed drought contingency plan.
A major deadline just passed without unanimous agreement among Western states over the future of the Colorado River, so the federal government is one step closer to stepping in on the dwindling river that provides water for 1-in-8 Americans. The path forward has become murkier for the drought-stricken region now in its 19th year of low water levels after a January 31 deadline failed to garner signed agreements from Arizona and California.
Did the goalposts just move on us? … Media reports suggest that Reclamation is lumping Arizona with California, which clearly did not meet the deadline, in its reasoning for taking an action that we had all hoped to avoid. It’s easy to feel betrayed by that, to conclude that Arizona was asked to move mountains and then when we did, we were told it still wasn’t good enough.
“The Southern Nevada Water Authority and the Las Vegas Valley Water District began laying off 101 full-time workers Wednesday as the wholesale water supplier and its largest member utility shift their focus from chasing growth to maintaining existing infrastructure.”
“Hoover Dam has been showing its age lately, and the problem can’t be fixed with fresh concrete or new equipment.
“Roughly two-fifths of the workforce at the federal facility will be eligible to retire within five years, leaving the Bureau of Reclamation scrambling to recruit and train skilled workers while keeping one of the nation’s most important water and power facilities operational.”
“Punishing drought in California could force that state to make a sizable withdrawal from a virtual water bank in Lake Mead this year, even as the reservoir shrinks closer to an all-time low and an unprecedented shortage declaration.”
“Pat Mulroy, who recently retired after more than two decades as Las Vegas’ influential water chief, is calling for people and water managers across the West to shift their thinking about the Colorado River and focus on shared stewardship of its declining flows.
“The Clark County Commission has approved a contract with John Entsminger, the unanimous pick to replace Pat Mulroy at the helm of the Las Vegas Valley Water District and the Southern Nevada Water Authority.”
“For a quarter century, Pat Mulroy kept water flowing to the nation’s driest city.
“Her work to stretch and supplement Nevada’s meager share of the Colorado River helped fuel the explosive growth of the Las Vegas Valley, which saw its population triple during her time as water chief.”