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In The News — Water Grab News — 2016

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In The News — Below are press stories about the ongoing drought in the west; press stories also cover the Southern Nevada Water Authority's "water grab" in Nevada and Utah; and other "mega" water projects that threaten the Great Basin.
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December 19, 2016 — Long-term plan for Colorado River water won't be sealed before Trump takes office — LAS VEGAS, Nevada — A long-term plan for protecting Lake Mead and preventing severe shortages in deliveries of Colorado River water to Arizona and two other states won’t be approved before the Obama administration ends, throwing more uncertainty into the outlook. While the three states keep discussing a drought contingency plan, Arizona water officials say they’ve reached general agreement with water users here for a shorter-term fix for Lake Mead’s chronic declines — [Print PDF]

November 30, 2016 — [Editorial] Tell Nevada Legislature not to undermine water law, says Howard Watts III commentary [ Photo: Howard Watts III] — Our state’s top water official — the State Engineer — wants “flexibility” to manage conflicts if it turns out the State allowed water pumping that impacts the environment or other users of that water resource. That might sound reasonable, but unfortunately various loose interpretations, over-optimistic assumptions, and loopholes since the start of Nevada water law have led one in every five water basins to become over-appropriated, with more rights on paper than water to supply them — Nevada Appeal [Print PDF]

November 16, 2016 — Drought on Colorado River Sparks Revolutionary Idea: Sharing Water — Business as usual on the Colorado River may be about to come to a screeching halt. One of the worst recorded droughts in human history has stretched water supplies thin across the far-reaching river basin, which serves 40 million people —

November 10, 2016 — Arizona cities cut deal to store more water in Lake Mead — Officials in Arizona have approved a new water-sharing agreement that will leave more water in Lake Mead in an effort to head off an unprecedented federal shortage declaration. Under an agreement between water officials in Phoenix and Tucson, a significant amount of Colorado River water allocated to Phoenix will be stored in Tucson-area reservoirs and the underground aquifer next year, while Tucson will draw about 20 percent less water from Lake Mead than normal — RJ.COM

November 02, 2016 — Western states could soon face Colorado River cuts; pipeline in doubt? The next U.S. president will have to act quickly to chart a course so the Colorado River can continue supplying water to millions of city-dwellers, farmers, Indian tribes and recreational users in the Southwest, according to a University of Colorado research study made public Monday — St George News

November 2016 — Report: Colorado river policy opportunities for tangible progress — University of Colorado [7 Page PDF]

November 02, 2016 — Water Crisis: The Colorado River Is Drying Up, And The Next President Needs To Work Fast To Stop A Major Drought — No matter who wins the White House Tuesday, the next president's administration will likely immediately face a pressing issue that gets very little national attention: What to do about the drying Colorado River that supplies water to millions of people in the American Southwest —

October 2016 — Climate Change and the Colorado River:  What We Already Know [4 Page PDF] — A publication of the Colorado River Research Group“ An independent, scientific voice for the future of the Colorado River”

October 21, 2016 — Critics say water plan appears to move 90% of pipeline cost to Utah taxpayers — Up to 90 percent of the cost of the Lake Powell Pipeline could fall to Utah taxpayers, critics say, if a set of newly proposed water rules remains unchanged. The rules, discussed during a Tuesday meeting of the State Water Development Commission, are the first draft of guidelines for how to allocate money from the controversial Water Infrastructure Restricted Account (WIRA), funded by sales tax —

October 13, 2016 — The Cost of Alternative Water Supply and Efficiency Options in California —

October 09, 2016 — Pay to save: [Utah] Commission offers $1.8 million to leave Colorado River untouched —

October 01, 2016 — [Utah] Water district strikes back — The Washington County Water Conservancy District fired a sharp response Friday to a group of university economists who argue that southwest Utah would need massive state subsidies to pay for the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline — The Spectrum

September 28, 2016 — Reservoirs are a major source of global greenhouse gases, scientists say — Countries around the world are trying to get their greenhouse gas emissions under control — to see them inch down, percentage point by percentage point, from where they stood earlier in the century. If everybody gets on board, and shaves off enough of those percentage points, we just might be able to get on a trajectory to keep the world from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius above the temperature where it stood prior to industrialization —

September 21, 2016 — Anne Castle: Our worn out water security blankets — Anne Castle is a senior fellow at the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment at the University of Colorado, focusing on western water issues. Ms. Castle served as the Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at the U.S. Department of the Interior from 2009 to 2014 where she oversaw water and science policy for the Department and had responsibility for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Geological Survey — [Print PDF]

September 20, 2016 — Who will pay for Powell pipeline? All of us, U. economists say — Taxpayers can expect to foot up to 72 percent of the controversial Lake Powell Pipeline's costs, according to University of Utah economists who analyzed repayment models developed in support of the billion-dollar-plus proposal to pipe Colorado River water 140 miles to St. George. The analysis by scholars Gabriel Lozada and Gail Blattenberger concluded that the financial consultant for the Washington County Water Conservancy District underestimates the project's costs, fails to consider interest on state bonds that would be issued, and ignores operating and maintenance costs —

September 16, 2016 — Utah water management plan goes to task force, but public is left in the dark (with audio) A draft plan for managing Utah's water may draw controversy not only for its recommendations — such as its call to develop the Lake Powell Pipeline and the Bear River Project — but also because it's unclear whether officials will release it to the public. The preliminary document, which was distributed to members of the state's Water Strategy Advisory Team during a Tuesday meeting, compiles comments from multiple sources, including the 38-person committee that was appointed by Gov. Gary Herbert. The Salt Lake Tribune acquired the document after the meeting —

September 14, 2016 — State engineer orders hearing on water authority’s plans for rural Nevada basins — CARSON CITY: The state engineer on Wednesday reopened some issues surrounding Southern Nevada Water Authority’s plan to tap into eastern Nevada’s groundwater and pipe it to Las Vegas. After a two-hour status conference with about a dozen attorneys, the state engineer’s office ordered a new hearing on the authority’s monitoring, management and mitigation plans for four rural Nevada basins — Las Vegas Review Journal [More press news ] [Mobil Link] [ View live stream of the meeting ]

September 13, 2016 — Water Priorities: Draft Plan Heads For Completion Amid Criticism — A state task force is polishing its report to Gov. Gary Herbert on preparing for Utah’s future water needs. Some environmentalists are criticizing the group for snubbing public input. The work of the 38 people on the Governor’s Water Strategy Task Force is nearing an end, and members met to get their first look Tuesday at a report they’re hoping to finalize by the year’s end —

September 09, 2016 —The forecast for Lake Mead: Hot and dry with plenty of anxiety — A reckoning arrives every August for the Colorado River and the 40 million people across the West who depend on it. After water managers measure annual inflows and outflows and do their best to estimate future precipitation in places as far-flung as northwestern Wyoming and southwestern New Mexico, they make a pronouncement that once was arcane but has become increasingly prominent — and ominous — LA Times

September 07, 2016 — City launching negotiations to bring water to Faraday, Apex — Water could flow by March 2018 to Faraday Future and other tenants that might someday move into the Apex Industrial Complex. With no discussion, the North Las Vegas City Council unanimously agreed Wednesday night to start negotiating with a company to design, build and help secure the financing for a $185 million infrastructure project that would connect Apex to the city’s water supply system — Las Vegas Review Journal [Mobil Link]

September 05, 2016 — Water authority takes conservation effort to new heights with airborne lasers, cameras — The Southern Nevada Water Authority isn’t spying on you exactly, but your landscaping is under high-tech surveillance. The region’s wholesale water supplier is using a combination of aerial photography and high-resolution laser mapping to track what is growing in the valley and figure out how much water those plants might need —

September 05, 2016 — Feds' water use forecast was too good to be true — It sounded too good to be true — an official forecast that 2016 water use in Arizona, California and Nevada will be the lowest since 1992. That forecast from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was too good to be true — by the bureau’s own admission. It was widely reported recently as a sign of major progress toward conservation. But what the bureau calls its more accurate forecast, while still showing progress, is significantly higher, predicting water use in the states will be its lowest in 11 years — not 24 —

August 31, 2016 — Obama at Lake Tahoe: Big announcements on Salton Sea, geothermal energy — he federal government is stepping up its commitment to the Salton Sea and exploring the possibility of buying geothermal energy from the Imperial Valley, in a series of moves that could help fund restoration projects at California's largest lake and maybe pave the way for a multi-state agreement to use less Colorado River water.

"Today's announcement demonstrates that smart and strategic action in Salton Sea can unlock significant public health, environmental, and economic wins for the region," Brian Deese, a senior advisor to Obama, said in a statement. —

August 27, 2016 — Water committee [State of Nevada] sends 5 bill requests to 2017 Legislature — An interim legislative subcommittee looking at Nevada’s water law held its final meeting Friday, approving five bill draft requests after listening to three hours of public comment, mostly from domestic well owners — Nevada Appeal [More Coverage —] [Print PDF]

Lake Mead (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) August 19, 2016 — Climate change is water change — why the Colorado River system is headed for major trouble — There’s good news and bad news for the drought-stricken Colorado River system, according to projections just released in a new federal report from the Bureau of Reclamation, manager of dams, powerplants and canals. The report predicts that Lake Mead — the river system’s largest reservoir, supplying water to millions of people in Nevada, Arizona, California and Mexico — will narrowly escape a shortage declaration next year. But a shortage is looking imminent in 2018, and water experts are growing ever more worried about the river system’s future — The Washington Post

August 18, 2016 — Nevada could see cut in its 2018 water allocation because of drought — AP

August 17, 2016 — Conservation Prevents Colorado River Shortage Declaration — A resolute effort in Arizona, California, and Nevada to reduce Colorado River water use is slowing the decline of Lake Mead and delaying mandatory restrictions on water withdrawals from the drying basin — circleofblue

August 15, 2016 — Study: Drought like 2000-2006 would empty Lake Powell — [Lake Powell is barely half-full after one of the driest 15-year periods for upper basin ] . . . From his office along the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs, Eric Kuhn can see the bottom of Lake Powell. Kuhn, the general manager of the Colorado River District, has been working for months on a study asking if future droughts will drop water levels in Lake Powell so low that Glen Canyon Dam won’t be able to produce hydropower or release enough water to meet downstream demands — [Print - HTML Format]

August 06, 2016 — New Colorado River book recasts ‘wasteful’ Las Vegas as a monument to smart water use — The dancing jets of water in front of the Bellagio have served as a convenient symbol of waste in countless news stories and documentaries. Author John Fleck offers a different take in “Water is for Fighting Over,” his new book about the Colorado River: The fountains, he writes, “represent one of the most economically productive uses of water you’ll find in the West.” — [Mobil Link]

August 06, 2016 — Lake Mead still shrinking, but lower consumption offers glimmer of hope — A late-season surge of rain and snow melt made a bad year better for the Colorado River, but it wasn’t enough to lift Lake Mead out of record-low territory. The reservoir that supplies 90 percent of the Las Vegas Valley’s drinking water bottomed out at 1,071.61 feet above sea level on July 1, its lowest level since May 1937, when the lake was filling for the first time behind a newly completed Hoover Dam —

August 06, 2016 — Las Vegas Water-Rationing Looms Amid "Structural Drought" In US Southwest —

August 02, 2016 — Colorado River’s Tale of Two Basins —In Colorado, rivers flow not only down mountain slopes but beneath them, across them, and through them. Nearly four dozen canals, tunnels, and ditches in the state move water out of natural drainages and into neighboring basins. Some snake across high passes. Others pierce bedrock —

August 02, 2016 — Stay Tuned: Thinking critically about water on ‘Killing the Colorado’ — One of the points that documentary “Killing the Colorado” makes is that water is not an infinite resource. This is perhaps more deeply understood by those who have experienced water restrictions due to prolonged drought conditions in their home states, particularly in the West —

July 27, 2016 — Tribes, farms wary of proposed CAP cuts as Lake Mead falls — PHOENIX: Tribes are apprehensive, cities are more upbeat and farmers stand somewhere in between over a proposed plan to cut CAP water deliveries to keep Lake Mead from falling to dangerously low levels —

July 27, 2016 — [New Study] The impact of the loss of electric generation at Glen Canyon Dam —The vast Colorado River system of dams, reservoirs, and diversions is facing an unprecedented water supply crisis. The 1922 Colorado River Compact, the legal foundation of this water system, was based on flawed assumptions that seriously overestimated Colorado River flow, underestimated public demand, and could not have foreseen the impacts of climate change . . . . powereconconsulting

July 26, 2016 — Federal officials say Lake Mead water won’t be released — PHOENIX — Federal officials say they won't release water that Arizona and other Lower Colorado River Basin states have stored in Lake Mead to another state. Deputy Interior Secretary Michael Connor wrote in a letter this week that the department will only release unused water belonging to one state to another if all three states agree. The Lower Basin is comprised of Arizona, Nevada and California. The assurances only protect water through 2016 because there will be an administration change in January. But they come as a victory for U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, who has been trying to get formal protection for Arizona's water stored in Lake Mead — AP [Mobil Link]

July 21, 2016 — Appellate court upholds water rights diversion for planned nuclear power plant — SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Court of Appeals said a district court judge did not err in upholding the state engineer's decision to grant a diversion of 53,600 acre-feet of water from the Green River for a planned nuclear power plant —

July 06, 2016 — Facing historically low levels, Lake Mead officials are fending off a water war. Here's how — This may be what the start of a water war looks like. Drought is draining the West’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, to historic low levels. Forecasts say climate change will make things worse. Headlines warn of water shortages and cutbacks. Members of Congress are moving to protect their states’ supplies. Yet if war is really imminent, why is one of the region’s most experienced water managers doing the same thing he has done for years: tinkering? — LA Times

New Mexico attorney Simeon Herskovits, representing groups opposing the proposed SNWA water pipeline June 30, 2016 — SNWA may propose changes to state water law — A meeting to present some of the current findings and results regarding the continued efforts of Southern Nevada Water Authority to build a pipeline in rural Nevada was held in Alamo last week. Simeon Herskovits, a New Mexico-based attorney with Advocates for Community and Environment, was on hand along with colleague Iris Thornton. They represent the interests of the Alamo Sewer and Water GID and a number of other irrigation companies or districts, county and local governments and individual owners fighting against the groundwater development being proposed by SNWA — [Print PDF]

June 30, 2016 — Sandra Ramaker says - Keep the water here — The five members of The Virgin Valley Water Board (VVWB), which serves both Mesquite and Bunkerville, are split over how so-called "excess" water should be handled —

June 28, 2016 — With Doomsday in Mind, California Officials Are Ceding Water to Arizona, Nevada — Twenty-six million people in California, Nevada and Arizona rely on the Colorado River, but this magnificent source of water that carved a continent is drying up. Representatives of the three states have been huddling behind closed doors and, for the first time ever, California water officials are offering to give up some of the state’s strongest claims to the river – at least temporarily —

June 20, 2016 — Study finds surprising source of Colorado River water supply — Every spring, snow begins to melt throughout the Rocky Mountains, flowing down from high peaks and into the streams and rivers that form the mighty Colorado River Basin, sustaining entire cities and ecosystems from Wyoming to Arizona. But as spring becomes summer, the melting snow slows to a trickle and, as summer turns to fall, all but stops —

June 20, 1916 —What Lake Mead’s Record Low Means for California — After 16 years of drought in the Colorado River Basin, Lake Mead has hit its lowest point ever. Here’s a look at what impact this will have on the 19 million Californians who depend on the water supply

June 13, 2016 — Arizona fends off threats to water supplies —

June 13, 2016 — DEAD SEAS: Landmark water transfer creates environmental wasteland — IMPERIAL COUNTY, Calif. -- The Salton Sea has gone from a midcentury vacation spot for movie stars to a post-apocalyptic desert with mounds of dead fish here, gurgling "mud pots" there, blasts from a military bombing range on the horizon and sulfuric stench everywhere. The worst is yet to come —

June 09, 2016 — Collaborating to protect Lake Mead — The Central Arizona Project (CAP) and the Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) recently hosted a second Colorado River Shortage Update. CAP and ADWR presented the latest information about the near-term outlook for the river and how Arizona can keep the river out of shortage in 2017. The update also featured a look at what needs to happen going forward to protect Lake Mead, the reservoir that supplies Arizona, Nevada, California and Mexico —

June 08, 2016 — DENVER — Wet May Boosts Snowpack In Most Of Colorado’s River Basins — A wet May boosted the snow across most of Colorado’s mountains, putting the state in good shape for the spring and summer runoff. Water officials said Tuesday the snowpack in six of the state’s seven river basins is well above normal for this time of year. The deeper snows range from 150 percent of normal in the Yampa and White Basin in northwestern Colorado to 235 percent in the South Platte Basin in north-central Colorado — AP

June 07, 2016 — Unabated Global Warming Threatens West's Snowpack, Water Supply — New study shows a snowline creeping higher in the Rockies, Sierra Nevada and Cascades and the resulting decrease in spring runoff endangers those below — BY BOB BERWYN, INSIDECLIMATE NEWS

June 02, 2016 — Why Desalination Isn’t the Solution to Water Woes — Stanford University recently hosted a diverse roundtable discussion to explore whether seawater desalination can resolve California's water problems. Leon Szeptycki, one of the organizers, helps us understand why the potential is limited —

May 28, 2016 — Watch Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the US, shrink dramatically over 15 years — Earlier this week, I wrote about how Lake Mead, America's largest man-made reservoir, has shrunk to its lowest level ever. It's a huge deal for the 25 million people in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Mexico who depend on freshwater from this crucial system. Now NASA's Earth Observatory has posted two satellite images that show the dramatic decline of Lake Mead between 2000 and 2015. The shrinkage is stunning — the lake has lost more than half its water and is down to just 37 percent capacity — VOX [More Coverage ]

May 24, 2016 — PUC’s [Nevada] decision goes beyond solar to water conservation — Those of us who live in water-stressed areas are accustomed to creating abundance for our sometimes-unforgiving desert homes. Among U.S. cities, Las Vegas ranks last in annual rainfall, yet it’s famous for swimming pools, golf courses and shark tanks — Las Vegas Sun   [Mobil Link]

Expand Map May 26, 2016 — Good and bad news for Colo. River Basin — Conditions in the Upper Colorado River Basin, particularly in Colorado, are OK for the time being, officials said Wednesday during a “state of the river” address in Rifle. However, the largest of several caveats to that statement falls in the context of the entire Colorado River Basin, specifically the lower basin, where water use continues to outpace supply —   [Print]

Lake Mead May 22, 2016 — Lake Mead hits all-time low amid ongoing drought — LAS VEGAS - The surface level at Lake Mead has dropped as planned to historic low levels, and federal water managers said Thursday the vast Colorado River reservoir is expected to continue to shrink amid ongoing drought. The closely controlled and measured lake shrunk Wednesday to its lowest point since Hoover Dam was completed in 1936 - with a surface level of 1,074.68 feet above sea level — CBS News

May 20, 2016 — Unplugging the Colorado River — WEDGED between Arizona and Utah, less than 20 miles upriver from the Grand Canyon, a soaring concrete wall nearly the height of two football fields blocks the flow of the Colorado River. There, at Glen Canyon Dam, the river is turned back on itself, drowning more than 200 miles of plasma-red gorges and replacing the Colorado’s free-spirited rapids with an immense lake of flat, still water called Lake Powell, the nation’s second-largest reserve —

May 19, 2016 — Early warning signal’: Lake Mead hits historic low — Lake Mead’s surface Wednesday evening hit its lowest level since the man-made reservoir was created by the building of the Hoover Dam in 1935. The surface of the lake – a critical source of water for Nevada, California, Arizona and Mexico – is expected to drop lower in the coming weeks, but rebound before the beginning of next year, when jurisdictions would be asked to accept shortages in supply — Las Vegas Sun

May 18, 2016 — Plaintiff Center for Biological Diversity’s reply in support of Motion for Summary Judgment; and in Opposition to Defendants’ and Intervenor’s Motions for Summary Judgment: Case 2:14-cv-00226-APG-VCF Document 111 Filed -- PDF 50 pages — Center For Biological Diversity

May 18, 2016 — Interactive Slide over these photos to see the drought's effect on some of the state's [CALIF] big reservoirs — LA Times

May 18, 2016 — In Sharp Reversal, California Suspends Water Restrictions — LOS ANGELES — California on Wednesday suspended its mandatory statewide 25 percent reduction in urban water use, telling local communities to set their own conservation standards after a relatively wet winter and a year of enormous savings in urban water use —

May 18, 2016 — [Jack Worlton, In My Opinion] The [Lake Powell] pipeline: Getting the numbers right — am writing this guest editorial to correct some problematic numbers that are often encountered in the discussions about the Lake Powell Pipeline proposal. The first problematic number concerns the question of how many people the local waters in Washington County can support —

May 17, 2016 — Arizona officials call for tightened limits on Lake Mead water use — WASHINGTON – Arizona officials said Tuesday it is time to end the “gentleman’s agreement” currently governing states’ use of water from Lake Mead and instead put tougher restrictions into law. “Arizona needs more certainty that the water is going to stay in Lake Mead if we’re going to keep putting water there,” said Thomas Buschatzke, director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources —

May 15, 2016 — Study finds Colorado River groundwater lacks protection — Groundwater delivers more than half the water flowing in the Upper Colorado River Basin and needs to be protected from overuse, a newly published U.S. Geological Survey study says. Water managers have tended to focus on surface water when setting policies for rivers and streams. The study says water managers will need to think of surface and groundwater as linked, managing both to maximize river flows — [Mobil Link]

Many 13, 2016 — Thanks El Niño, But California’s Drought Is Probably Forever — Drought is a tricky thing to define. It is not just a matter of how little water falls out of the sky. If it were, you would be forgiven for believing that California’s wettish winter had ended, or even alleviated, the worst drought in state history. But no. Despite the snow in the Sierra Nevada, the water filling Lake Shasta, and the rapids in the Kern River, California is still in a state of drought. For now, maybe forever —

May 12, 2016 — State Panel Orders Lake Powell Pipeline Repayment Plans Released — A state panel ruled Thursday that Utah citizens have a right to know more about how they might be expected to pay for the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline —

he Colorado River flows near Arches National Park near Moab, Utah, on Feb. 14, 2016. (Photo: Jay Calderon, Jay Calderon/The Desert Sun) May 11, 2016 — Salton Sea a concern for IID in Colorado River talks — Much of the water that California receives from the Colorado River flows to the Imperial Valley, where canals spread out across fields of hay, wheat and vegetables of all sorts, from carrots to broccoli. Because the Imperial Irrigation District holds the single largest entitlement to water from the river, its participation would be vital in any agreement for California to share in water cutbacks to avert a looming shortage in Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir. But major hurdles remain for the district to support a potential deal, and the reasons begin with the shrinking Salton Sea — Desert Sun .com

May 07, 2016 — As Lake Mead sinks, states agree to more water cuts — Three years ago, state hydrologists in the Colorado River Basin began to do some modeling to see what the future of Lake Mead – the West’s largest reservoir – might look like. If the dry conditions continued, elevations in Lake Mead, which is fed by the Colorado River, could drop much faster than previous models predicted. For decades, the West’s big reservoirs were like a security blanket, says Anne Castle, the former assistant secretary for water and science at the Interior Department. But the blanket is wearing thin. Under normal conditions, Lake Mead loses 1.2 million acre-feet of water every year to evaporation . . .

May 06, 2016 — Sally Jewell sees progress in Colorado River talks — Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said the United States and Mexico are making important progress in talks on a new accord to share water from the Colorado River, which is badly over-tapped and approaching critical shortage levels — Desert Sun

Hank Vogler May 06, 2016 Video: Meet the Nevada rancher fighting to stay on his land — Hank Vogler spent the last 40 years building his dream ranch in the arid lands of eastern Nevada. But a plan to transfer water from ranches like his to slake the thirst of Nevada's largest city threatens his livelihood. This sheep rancher says he won't give up without a fight — High Country News

This video is part of a series produced by Corey Robinson about water issues around the United States. Follow @coreyrobinson on Instagram and National Geographic's Water Currents to see the rest.

May 06, 2016 — California Snowpack and Drought Show Improvement Over Last Year

April 30, 2016 — NASA Predicts Megadroughts are Coming to the American West — While the recent water shortage in California and other states made headline for months, NASA scientists believe that drought will be viewed as comparatively minor in the not-so-distant future. Based on NASA’s climate models, large parts of North America could begin to experience megadroughts – severe climate events than can last decades – before the turn of the century

Cave Lake - near Ely, Nevada April 29, 2016 — Legal advocate fighting SNWA briefs county commission and water committee on progress — The White Pine County Board of Commissioners held a joint meeting with the County Water Advisory Committee on April 26, and two important players in the county’s defense of its groundwater provided a progress report. Simeon Herskovits, an attorney from Advocates for Community and Environment and the leader of the legal effort to protect rural Nevada groundwater, and Abby Johnson, president of the Great Basin Water Network, spoke in front of an attendant crowd of about two dozen —

April 29, 2016 — Lake Powell Pipeline proposal goes to federal review — Just as some of the drought-starved states downstream are cutting back, officials in Utah say they plan to file on Monday an official proposal to dip into their rights to the Colorado River via the Lake Powell Pipeline —

April 26, 2016 — States consider more cuts on Colorado River to prop up Lake Mead — Top water officials in Nevada, Arizona and California have negotiated a deal to cut their use of the Colorado River and slow the decline of Lake Mead, but the landmark agreement is far from finished. Negotiators from Arizona and California are now shopping the plan to various water users and policymakers in their states, where the proposed cuts are likely to be painful and in some cases unprecedented. Arizona would shoulder most of the reductions, but the tentative deal marks the first time California has agreed to share the pain – if the drought worsens —

Lines on the shore show the receding water levels of Lake Mead. (Photo: Richard Lui/The Desert Sun) April 25, 2016 — California weighs sharing ‘pain’ of Colorado River cuts — With the Colorado River tapped beyond its limits and the level of Lake Mead in decline, representatives of California, Arizona and Nevada say they’ve been making progress in negotiating an agreement for all three states to share in water cutbacks in order to stave off a more severe shortage — [Related Story — Big CAP cuts coming as 3-state water agreement nears —]

April 23, 2016 — Dry soil to absorb some snowmelt heading to Colorado River — DENVER — Storms brought deep snow to the mountains that feed the vital Colorado River this winter and spring, but the dried-out landscape will soak up some of the runoff before it can reach the river and the 40 million people depending on it for water. The snowpack in the vast Upper Colorado River Basin — encompassing almost 110,000 square miles of mountains, valleys and tributaries from Wyoming to New Mexico — hit its seasonal peak this month, federal data show. It reached about 94 percent of the long-term average. But the melted snow that makes it into the river and eventually to Lake Powell in Utah, the second-largest reservoir in the nation, is expected to reach only 74 percent of average, forecasters say — AP[Mobil Link]

April 21, 2016 — Faraday Future’s first water bill: $250,000 — It’s too soon to say how large an impact Faraday Future will have on Southern Nevada, but we now know the size of the company’s first water bill. The Southern Nevada Water Authority board Thursday approved several agreements to deliver groundwater to Faraday’s factory site at Apex, including one that requires the electric car company to make a $250,000 down payment on the water it needs during construction — Las Vegas Review Journal [Mobil Link]

Abril 21, 2016 — Las Vegas Is Betting It Can Become the Silicon Valley of Water —

April 19, 2016 — Snake Valley celebrates Eighth Annual Water Festival June 17-19 in Baker, Nevada — Friends and supporters of Snake Valley will gather in Baker, Nevada during the weekend of June 17-19 for the eighth annual Snake Valley Festival to celebrate and raise funds in support of community preservation. All are invited to join in. All proceeds from the festival events will benefit the Great Basin Water Network ( to help protect the water and environment in eastern Nevada and the west desert of Utah —

April 2016 — Steve Wynn and Wynn Resorts (WYNN) Announce Plans to Build Recreational Lake on Las Vegas Strip

April 11, 2016 — Sierra Nevada Snow Won’t End California’s Thirst — YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. — Thanks in part to El Niño, snowpack in the Sierra Nevada is greater than it has been in years. With the winter snowfall season winding down, California officials said that the pack peaked two weeks ago at 87 percent of the long-term average —

April 07, 2016 — Colorado River runoff forecast keeps dropping — Drought continues to put the squeeze on the Southwest’s water supplies, with Colorado River runoff forecasts declining for the second straight month. The details: —

April 07, 2016 — Arizona wants legal assurances California won't take its stored water — Arizona and California are arguing over Colorado River water again — this time over whether it should be inscribed in law that California can’t take Arizona’s share of river water that’s left in Lake Mead to prop up lake levels —

April 2016 — SNWA Update - Low lake level pumping station — Facing the worst drought on record in the Colorado River Basin, and as lake levels continue to fall, the Southern Nevada Water Authority's (SNWA) Board of Directors approved the construction of a low lake level pumping station — SNWA

April 04, 2016 — California water-saving rules to ease, but nobody's off the hook — Poised to ease California's mandatory drought rules after rebounding rain and snow levels this winter, state water officials on Monday made it clear that -- even where reservoirs are 100 percent full -- no community is likely to get an entirely free pass from conservation targets this summer —

Low water levels in late 2014 at Lake Powell, which is a Colorado River water reservoir built along the border of Utah and Arizona. April 01, 2016 — Climate Change Worsening Colorado River Droughts — Even as the number of Americans relying on the Colorado River for household water swells to about 40 million, global warming appears to be taking a chunk out of the flows that feed their reservoirs. Winter storms over the Rocky Mountains provide much of the water that courses down the heavily-tapped waterway, which spills through deep gorges of the Southwest and into Mexico —

March 22, 2016 — SECURE Water Act Report to Congress The Bureau of Reclamation's report is the second comprehensive look at how climate change will affect water supplies in the West. It finds that warming weather will increase the likelihood of shortages, particularly for farmers. The Report identifies climate change as a growing risk to Western water management and cites warmer temperatures, changes to precipitation, snowpack and the timing and quality of streamflow runoff across major river basins as threats to water sustainability. Along with the report, Reclamation released an online map depicting the basins and their individual climate projections for 2020, 2050 and 2070. —

March 22, 2016 — SECURE Water Act Report to Congress The Bureau of Reclamation's report is the second comprehensive look at how climate change will affect water supplies in the West. It finds that warming weather will increase the likelihood of shortages, particularly for farmers. The Report identifies climate change as a growing risk to Western water management and cites warmer temperatures, changes to precipitation, snowpack and the timing and quality of streamflow runoff across major river basins as threats to water sustainability. Along with the report, Reclamation released an online map depicting the basins and their individual climate projections for 2020, 2050 and 2070. —

March 22, 2016 — Wyoming among States Advancing Claims on Colorado River — CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Wyoming has moved one step closer to getting more water for ranching, agriculture and industrial development —

March 21, 2016 — Presidential Memorandum: Building National Capabilities for Long-Term Drought Resilience — The White House

March 18 2016 — USGS Report: Limitations of perennial yield concept and principles of groundwater sustainability in Nevada [23 Page PDF]

March 15, 2016 — Making Salt Water Drinkable Just Got 99 Percent Easier — Access to steady supplies of clean water is getting more and more difficult in the developing world, especially as demand skyrockets. In response, many countries have turned to the sea for potable fluids but existing reverse osmosis plants rely on complicated processes that are expensive and energy-intensive to operate. Good thing, engineers at Lockheed Martin have just announced a newly-developed salt filter that could reduce desalinization energy costs by 99 percent —

The Colorado River runs near Laughlin, Nev March 12, 2016 — ENVIRONMENT: Worries rising as Colorado River water runs low — For the past five years, as the drought drained California’s water sources and depleted its reservoirs, Southern California water managers have relied increasingly on the region’s largest out-of-state water source: the Colorado River. The river feeds the 242-mile Colorado River Aqueduct, which ends at Lake Mathews in Riverside County — [Related story]

March 11, 2016 — Forecasters say Lake Mead water shortage could be near — Federal forecasters say a warm, dry February has increased the chances that Lake Mead will have a water shortage by 2018. El Nino brought a snowy winter to the Rocky Mountains, but things dried up in February, reported The Arizona Republic. As a result, Lake Powell will likely only hold 80 percent of its long-term average amount of water by spring, according to the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center — Las Vegas Sun [Mobil Link] [Related Story]

March 06, 2016 — Stone tools from the end of the ice age discovered in Lincoln County — Thousands of years before Dry Lake Valley earned its name, the vast basin in Eastern Nevada cradled water and marshland that beckoned some of the Great Basin’s earliest known human inhabitants. Their stone tools are still out there, if you know where to look. A team of archaeologists from a Utah-based firm has found artifacts at six sites in the Lincoln County valley, 130 miles northeast of Las Vegas on U.S. Highway 93. They also found ancient tools at seven sites in Delamar Valley and six sites near Kane Springs, also in Lincoln County — Las Vegas Review Journal [Mobil Link]

February 26, 2016 — How Will Native Americans in the Southwest Adapt to Serious Impacts of Climate Change? — Around the world, indigenous peoples are among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. That is true, too, in the United States. Coastal native villages in Alaska have already been inundated with water due to melting permafrost and erosion, and the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians of Louisiana recently announced plans to resettle on higher ground after losing 98 percent of their lands since 1950 to rising sea levels —

February 25, 2016 — Flint Scandal Is Already Changing the Water Utility Business — For Carrie Lewis, superintendent of Milwaukee Water Works, the Flint water crisis is a history lesson. In the spring of 1993, two years before Lewis was hired to oversee the water treatment process in Wisconsin’s largest city, Milwaukee’s water system failed. Cryptosporidium, an intestinal parasite, entered the distribution pipes through the city’s Lake Michigan water intake. The bugs should have been killed by a battery of common purification measures: chlorination, flocculation, filtration. They weren’t —

February 23, 2016 — Colorado, Wyoming Plan For River Water Share — The Colorado River is arguably the most allocated river in the world. Drought and climate change have left less water to go around, and that has every state that relies on the river scrambling —

February 23, 2016 Water experts discuss Colorado River issues in desert agriculture —

A United States Bureau of Reclamation boat speeds along at Lake Mead on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. As a long-term drought continues, a white February 17, 2016 — Here's what El Nino's storms meant for Lake Mead's water levels — Even one of the strongest El Ninos on record can't seem to dent the drought on the Colorado River. The Pacific Ocean climate pattern that typically soaks the Southwest has so far only managed to produce an average year on the river that supplies 90 percent of the Las Vegas Valley's water supply. The latest federal projections released Friday call for the Colorado to carry about 94 percent of its average flow during the all-important April-July time frame, when snowmelt in the western Rockies collects in Lake Powell on the Utah-Arizona border — Las Vegas Review Journal [Mobil Link]

February 17, 2016 — El Niño Rains Fail to Replenish Lakes in Colorado River Basin — PHOENIX - So far this winter, El Niño has not delivered the predicted rains needed to replenish the parched Colorado River Basin, conservationists say —

February 15, 2016 — Proposal to divert funds to help fund Lake Powell pipeline — SALT LAKE CITY (AP) A proposal in the Utah Legislature would greenlight the transfer of nearly $500 million dollars from transportation projects to water projects in a move that could funnel money to the controversial Lake Powell pipeline. The Utah Senate approved the measure on Friday on a 19-10 vote — kutv.comRelated Story

February 12, 2016 — New straw at Lake Mead up for prestigious engineering prize — PHOTOS — Las Vegas Review Journal

February 10, 2016 — Change Trickling Through Colorado River Basin — As water leaders contend with unprecedented drought and demand, will the river people of the Colorado band together as regional citizens? —

February 09, 2016 — Liquid Assets — A maverick hedge fund manager thinks Wall Street is the answer to the water crisis in the West. — ON A BRISK, CLOUDLESS DAY last January, Disque Deane Jr. stepped out of his SUV, kicked his cowboy boots in the dirt, and looked around. He had driven two hours from Reno on one of the loneliest stretches of interstate in the United States to visit the Diamond S Ranch, just outside the town of Winnemucca, Nevada. Before him, open fields stretched all the way to the Santa Rosa mountains, 30 miles away. But the land was barren. The fields had been chewed down to the roots by cattle, and the ranch’s equipment had been stripped for parts. A steel trestle bridge lay pitched into the Humboldt River — by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica -- This story was co-published with The Atlantic.

February 09, 2016 — Obama proposes new approaches to Western water shortages — WASHINGTON: Spurning dams for research in water technology, President Obama laid out a striking contrast Tuesday to the strategies adopted by California lawmakers in both parties on how to remedy Western water shortages — SF Gate [Mobil Link]

February 09, 2016 — Voicing the Hard Truths: The Future of the Colorado River – An Interview With Doug Kenney — We’d like to believe that our training, experience, and perspective gives us some special insights to the river’s challenges—and in some cases it does; but I suspect our bigger role is often just saying those things that many others already understand, but can’t publicly acknowledge —

February 08, 2016 — Nevada Committee begins 'treacherous journey' to look at water law — An interim legislative committee looking at fixes for Nevada water law began meeting this week with a primer and a caution. “We are about to embark on a treacherous journey,” Jason King, state engineer, told the five-member Subcommittee to Study Water at its initial meeting Monday in Las Vegas — Nevada Appeal [Print PDF]

Lake Mead is at its lowest level since being filled in the 1930s. -- L.E. BASKOW January 28, 2016 — Can Nevada meet the water needs of big companies it’s luring? Experts think so — When electric car company Faraday Future was thinking of building a manufacturing plant in Southern Nevada, it needed water.Its operation would require 630 acre-feet of water, or about the amount it takes to water one golf course, said John Entsminger, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority — Las Vegas Sun [Mobil Link]

January 28, 2016 — Modest Dents’ In Long-Term California Drought — The U.S. Drought Monitor released January 28 partly credits El Niño moisture for "some modest dents in the armor of the multi-year drought in California." "Slow and steady recovery continues for parts of the West this week after another beneficial round of precipitation brought with it liquid equivalent totals running from 5 to 8 inches or more in some spots in the northern Sierra Nevada and Cascade Ranges," according to the weekly update —

January 28, 2016 — High court backs state engineer's water rights decision — CARSON CITY — The state engineer properly imposed incremental development of water rights in a rural Nevada basin granted to Southern Nevada Water Authority, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled Thursday. In a unanimous opinion on a limited technical point, justices denied a petition sought by the Cleveland Ranch owned by the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. . . . But the court's ruling Thursday doesn't mean the water authority will begin pumping groundwater from Spring Valley or three other rural basins near the Utah line anytime soon. In May 2015, the Supreme Court declined to consider challenges to a 2013 ruling in by Senior District Judge Robert Estes in Ely that essentially stripped the authority of the rural water rights — Las Vegas Review Journal

January 28, 2016 — Lawmakers, Utahns wary of Lake Powell Pipeline’s unknown cost — Utahns still aren't sure whether they support the construction of the Lake Powell Pipeline, but the state senate is already on track to hear a bill that could help fund it. After a Wednesday afternoon hearing that attracted an overflow crowd, the Senate Natural Resources, Agriculture, and Environment Standing Committee voted 5-2 to support SB80, which would create a water infrastructure fund and divert a 1/16-cent sales tax to it — Salt Lake Tribune

Photo by - Cataract Canyon, Colorado River January 25, 2016 — Economic Crisis Could Follow Colorado River Cuts — As the threat of water scarcity looms over the West, so does the prospect of water cuts on the Colorado River, an essential water source for large swaths of the country. Cuts could force an economic crisis on the region. “Between them, the seven basin states have an annual Gross Domestic Product of $3 trillion to $3.5 trillion per year —

January 25, 2016 — What can Southern Nevada do about its water problem? — The water level in Lake Mead has dropped to historic lows, forcing the construction of a third straw at the bottom of Las Vegas’ reservoir. Gov. Brian Sandoval’s panel of experts issued a report that recommended more aggressive water-saving plans. If you follow the headlines, it looks as if water in Las Vegas is in dire straits. But while the challenges are great, Southern Nevada may be rising to meet them — Las Vegas Sun

January 20, 2016 — Mountain snows that feed Colorado River look good so far — DENVER: Snowpack in the mountains that feeds the Colorado River is slightly above the long-term average this winter — welcome news in the drought-stricken Southwest. But water and weather experts said Tuesday it's too early to predict how deep the snow will get or how much of it will make its way into the river and on to Lake Powell in Utah and Arizona, one of two major reservoirs on the Colorado. The other major reservoir is Lake Mead, which receives a share of Lake Powell's water as part of the Colorado River Compact — AP

January 11, 2016 — Poll: Nevada voters support solar power, fear for the Colorado River — Ninety-one percent of Nevada voters said low levels of water in the state was a problem, and 70 percent believed that the Colorado River was at risk, according to the 2016 Conservation in the West poll released today by Colorado College’s State of the Rockies program — Las Vegas Sun

January 08, 2016 — How the feds can ensure Western states get more water in 2016 — This summer, as California was struggling through its fourth and most severe year of drought, two California Congressmen unveiled legislation meant to ease the pain. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) and Rep. David Valadao (R) introduced, respectively, the California Emergency Drought Relief Act of 2015 and the Western Water and American Food Security Act of 2015. Though both are aimed primarily at their home state, the bills’ scope is West-wide —

January 04, 2016 — Legislators Sum Up Recent Special Session — The four legislators who represent the Moapa Valley communities are optimistic about the economic benefits that may be on the horizon for northeastern Clark County. We caught up with each of them last week to get a brief review from them on the recent high-stakes special legislative session that was held last month in Carson City . . . One of the major legislative hurdles that the Faraday deal had to face dealt with water —

January 03 2016 — Report: Lake Mead dropping 12 feet per year — The math is simple. So states a disarming truism in a new report from the Colorado River Research Group, formed of water scholars in four states, “an independent, scientific voice for the future of the Colorado River.” In 2007, the U.S. secretary of the interior adopted interim guidelines for a period of 20 years that sought peace among the seven Colorado River basin states and Mexico, most of which are always ready to grapple over one of the Southwest’s most precious resources: Colorado River water —

Go To Water Grab News Archives — 2015

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