Equilibrium in the #ColoradoRiver Basin — John Fleck #resilience

February 28, 2015

Lake Mead water levels via NOAA

Lake Mead water levels via NOAA


Here’s a look at a system’s ability to recover from a shock and what a low Lake Mead says about the Colorado River Basin, so far, in the 21st century. Click through and read the whole thing and for John’s optimism. Here’s an excerpt:

Melinda Harm Benson, part of my University of New Mexico water policy posse, has been teaching me about “resilience”, which as she carefully defines it means the ability of a system to absorb a shock and retain its basic functional characteristics. In a very helpful paper applying this line of thinking to the Rio Grande, Benson borrows this definitional language from Brian Walker and David Salt: “the capacity of a system to absorb a spectrum disturbance and reorganize so as to retain essentially the same function, structure, and feedbacks—to have the same identity.”

What we are seeing in the great emptiness of Lake Mead is a disturbance – substantially less water than we’ve every had before in the system, with demands that are simultaneously as large as, if not larger than, anything seen before in the system.

But the definition of resilience I’m using here begs an important question: who gets to decide what functions are to be retained? What is in, and what is out?

When I say “the system,” I intend something that requires some care in definition. It includes not only the river, but the infrastructure we have built on top of it over the last century to move its water for uses elsewhere, and the society that we have built based on the availability of that water.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.


A tale of two tunnels: How the Moffat Tunnel conquered the divide

February 26, 2015

Originally posted on Mile High Water Talk:

The water tunnel is the pilot bore next to the famous railroad tunnel, pictured here in 1956. The water tunnel runs parallel to the famous railroad tunnel, pictured here in 1956.

A tale of two tunnels: How the Moffat Tunnel conquered the divide 

The Moffat Tunnel changed the way Denver Water provided a reliable water supply to its earliest customers.

By Steve Snyder

This week, 9News and History Colorado provided a historical perspective on the Moffat Tunnel. Eighty-seven years ago, that tunnel changed the way railroad travelers traversed the Continental Divide. But the Moffat Tunnel would provide groundbreaking implications when it came to water delivery as well.

In the early 1920s, the Denver Water Board (as Denver Water was called then) was a fledgling utility searching for additional water to serve a growing city. The water provider had already secured additional water rights from Colorado’s West Slope, but getting that water over the Continental Divide and into existing infrastructure was problematic. Necessity would soon meet innovation.

View original 249 more words


Happy 96th birthday @GrandCanyonNPS

February 26, 2015


Hoover Dam’s cobwebbed spillway — John Fleck

February 26, 2015

From InkStain (John Fleck) (Click through for the photo):

Erika Moonin, the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s engineering project manager for construction of the agency’s new Lake Mead intakes, showed me a picture yesterday of water pouring over Hoover Dam’s spillways in 1983, the last time the reservoir spilled. When she was a youngster, her dad took her out to see the spectacle. Looking at it today, it’s hard to imagine. Current lake level is 137 feet below the 1983 peak…

* I didn’t actually see cobwebs. It’s literary license.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.


NIDIS: Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment of the Upper #ColoradoRiver Basin

February 25, 2015

Upper Colorado River Basin February 1 thru 22, 2015 precipitation

Upper Colorado River Basin February 1 thru 22, 2015 precipitation


Click here to read the current assessment. Click here to go to the NIDIS website hosted by the Colorado Climate Center.


The Aspinall Unit operations meeting minutes are hot off the presses #ColoradoRiver

February 25, 2015

Aspinall Unit dams

Aspinall Unit dams


Click here to read the minutes from the recent Aspinall Unit Operations meeting.


The latest newsletter from the Water Center at Colorado Mesa University is hot off the presses

February 25, 2015
Grand Valley Irrigation Ditch

Grand Valley Irrigation Ditch

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

SEMINAR ON AG FUTURE 2/25, 6-9PM
The final session of our 2015 Water Course, which is focused on the future of irrigated agriculture, will take place at CMU and will be live-streamed on the internet from 6-9pm. For full details, click here.

More education coverage here.


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