Tag: Colorado

All about Lexi!

Lexi is a wonderful young dog.

Those poor souls who keep on calling in to this place will most likely be aware of my very long-term friend Dan Gomez.

For all of the nearly forty years that I have know Dan he has always had a dog in his life.

Just a few days ago, Dan sent me an email with some pictures of Lexi, a young dog that he has had since she was a puppy.

Lexi! (Photograph taken at the Sante Fe ski basin.)

Or in Dan’s words:

Lexi has been a magnificent example of an adventurous Flat-Coated Retriever.

She’s a wonderful hiker, swimmer, hunter and a great greeter on the trail. She’s happiest when she has her leash clenched in her teeth, parading around from person to person before continuing on her way.

What a great breed these dogs are!

Lexi came from the Brazilian breeder Keli: “Keli is the breeder, a fantastic Brazilian living in a wonderful estate in the hills of San Jose.“; to use Dan’s words.

Apparently, Keli plans for pups that year were taken out of her hands. For the reason that Lexi’s parents, Schmee and Party, decided to creep off into the bushes one day, and:

Schmee and Party are the popular names for the sire and dam and they were free from the kennel one day when Keli was off on a trip and they mated. So, the pups were “accidents”.  But, most assuredly, great accidents!

As Keli’s website explains:

Schmee x Party

Born October 11, 2015

7 girls, 3 boys

Pedigree

J Litter Gallery

While this repeat of our G litter was not planned … We welcomed these ten pups with open arms after seeing the success of the 3 intact G puppies and the stories from owners of other G pups who just adore their dogs.  Not surprising at all, based on Schmee and Party being complete mushballs who just want to hold on to you, be with you and be loved by you.  This litter has surprised and delighted us already with three pointed puppies … Juice, Callie & Popper in their first year of showing.  I cannot wait to see what 2017 holds for them.

Introducing …

Saudades’ Juicy Fruit aka The Juice

Saudades’ Just Do It aka Lexi

Saudades’ Jaboticaba aka Callie

Saudades’ Jelly Belly aka Imogene

Saudades’ Jumbalaya aka Olivia

Saudades’ Jundiai aka Stella

Saudades’ Jasmine Jubilee aka Jasmine

Saudades’ Jewel for Tomme aka Banks

CH Saudades’ Jalapeno RN CGC aka Popper

Saudades’ Jalisco aka Buck

Dan’s email closes:

She will be three in October and her health and performance has been great. She had Rattlesnake aversion training last year in Palm Springs and did very well. She ran a gauntlet of four snakes to learn sound, site and smell.

She’s had two rattler encounters. On one hike, she encountered a rattler, approached it but stopped on a dime when it rattled loudly. I was someway behind, heard the rattle and whistled to her and she backed away, came immediately to me.

Nature vs. training worked perfectly.

We are still hiking two times daily between 3 and 7 miles total all over the West. Addicted.

Schmee and Party were a great “accident”!

Garden of Gods, Colorado

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Sheridan, Wyoming.

Again and again, our lives are so incredibly enriched by having a dog (or six) in our lives!

Never give up!

Sharing and caring in abundance!

Please forgive the shortness of the introduction. It’s just that Jean and I were out all day and I didn’t sit down to present today’s post for all you good people until 4pm.

Frankly, this is such a wonderful account of caring for dogs that any intro from me would be superfluous!

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From Rags to Kisses: Abused Dogs Find Happy Homes in Colorado

By: Laura Burge July 1, 2017

About Laura Follow Laura at @literarylaura

In December 2014, Animal House Rescue and Grooming in Fort Collins, Colorado, found a very special delivery on its doorstep. Three dogs arrived from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, an Oglala Lakota Native American reservation.

One of the poorest communities in the country, the reservation has an overabundance of unwanted pets facing the risk of disease, starvation, exposure to the elements and, unfortunately, violence.

After a five-hour drive, DeeDee, Prince and Maizy made the first step to finding new and happy lives.

DeeDee was originally discovered living in the trash dump on the Pine Ridge Reservation, where she made her home upon an old discarded sofa atop a pile of tires. A local rescuer, aware of her plight, spent a week slowly gaining DeeDee’s trust with food.

Once the understandably nervous dog allowed the rescuer to get close enough to her, she found herself on a leash and then in a car. Little did DeeDee know she was on her long way home.

DeeDee spent some time in foster care in South Dakota, recovering from mange and learning to trust again before she was transferred to Animal House to give her a better chance of finding her future family. It didn’t take long for them to find each other, with DeeDee’s charming and playful nature quickly winning over their hearts.

Prince, a 2-year-old shepherd mix, had been found covered in matted fur and burrs. He showed up at Animal House having been shaved, but full of affection.

When Prince arrived, they noticed that there was a problem with his back leg and quickly got him in for x-rays. The cause became quickly apparent, and horrible: Prince had been shot on the reservation. The bullet had travelled through his rear hip and shattered his femoral head.

Not knowing how long he had been suffering through the pain of his injury, the staff at Animal House was anxious for Prince to find relief as quickly as possible. He was sent to CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital for a femoral head osteotomy, a surgery that alleviated his pain and allowed him to keep his rear leg.

Thankfully, his lovable nature showed through. Prince was able to recover in comfort and bask in newfound love, as he went to his new home shortly after surgery.

Maizy was a beautiful 8-month-old Husky mix puppy with eyes that melted hearts. Whatever happened to Maizy on the reservation, something that will remain a mystery, she came to Animal House in a lot of pain.

Maizy had several neurological symptoms and pain in her neck. After x-rays, the shelter soon found that the puppy had a fractured cervical vertebra, which was causing compression on her spinal cord. This could have been catastrophic for Maizy, but she’s a fighter.

Maizy’s foster family dedicated their time to bringing her to CSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital for regular bandaging and casting to keep her spine in place. Her beautiful face and wonderful personality through all of this ended up winning the heart of an Animal House volunteer. Having made a full recovery and a lifelong connection, Maizy now lives happily in her loving forever home.

Adoption Highlight: Special Needs Dogs

These adorable special needs dogs are still waiting to find their way to new homes.

Banjo is a 6-year-old pit bull terrier mix who had a rough start to life, facing his many challenges with a great attitude. He arrived at Animal House with skin issues related to allergies, worn down teeth and scarring on his body, as well as kidney disease. Banjo gives the best hugs and thinks he is a lap dog, so he would make an excellent snuggle buddy.

Bella is a 2-year-old shih tzu mix who arrived at Animal House after her former sanctuary had to close its doors. Bella has a love for life and gets along well with other dogs and cats. She does struggle in some areas, though, specifically with constipation and some house-training. Bella is looking for a patient and kind forever home willing to help her live comfortably with her condition.

Ghost is a 2-year-old Australian Cattle Dog mix who is sensitive, intelligent, and inquisitive. He is nervous about new people and environments and needs a home that can build his confidence so that he can be happy and comfortable in a variety of situations. Ghost just wants some good old-fashioned love and patience!

You can find out more about these adoptable dogs here.

Photo credits: Animal House Rescue and Grooming, Colorado

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Whatever the state of the world, as long as there are organisations and people who will love and care for animals in need then I will be at peace.

Just about Arizona water.

A more intimate look at the water of Arizona.

Yesterday, I published a recent Tomgram essay by William deBuys: Goodbye to All That (Water).  The essence of what William was presenting was that, “The crucial question for Phoenix, for the Colorado, and for the greater part of the American West is this: How long will the water hold out?

Also in yesterday’s Learning from Dogs post, I closed with the statement, “If readers will forgive me, I will continue the theme tomorrow with a rather more personal perspective.

I have decided to delay the ‘personal’ aspect to today’s post until the very end.  So back to Arizona’s water.

As an indication that this is not a new problem, I recently came across an article that was published  in The Arizona Republic by  Shaun McKinnon in August 2009.  It was called Unabated use of groundwater threatens Arizona’s future. Here’s how that article opened:

Thirty years after Arizona tried to stop cities and towns from using up their groundwater, the state still can’t shake its thirst for one of its most finite resources.

The steady drain on underground reserves grows out of two realities: Canals and pipelines don’t reach far enough to deliver surface water to everyone, and laws don’t reach far enough to stop people from drilling.

If the groundwater addiction continues unabated and under-regulated, the effects will be broad and potentially disastrous: Scarcer supplies could push rates higher and create uncertainty about water availability, discouraging new business and slowing economic growth. If wells start to run dry and aquifers collapse, the landscape could be dotted with fissures and sinkholes.

Lawmakers adopted some of the nation’s most progressive water-protection laws to avert such crises, but the laws excluded rural areas and allowed changes that let cities and subdivisions resume well-drilling, further depleting exhaustible aquifers.

Meanwhile, the renewable resource intended to replace groundwater – surface water fed by the annual runoff of mountain snow – can’t meet the demand of urban areas too far from the delivery canals.

The result is holes in the state’s water bucket that are spreading as fast as the holes in the ground.

Then good friend, Dan Gomez sent me this link: Arizona’s Water: Uses and Sources. I would like to cover some of the information contained on that website.

Arizona’s Water: Uses and Sources

One acre-foot of water.
One acre-foot of water.

A land’s carrying capacity has always been determined by its access to usable water. Humans use water primarily for irrigation, industry, drinking water, and sanitation. Millions of non-human species depend on water for life itself. Only 1% of the earth’s water is freshwater, to be shared among more than 7 billion people and all freshwater aquatic ecosystems in the world. It is perhaps the most precious resource on the planet.

Large volumes of water are most commonly measured in acre-feet. One acre-foot is the amount of water required to cover one acre of area to the depth of one foot: 325,851 gallons. Approximately one acre-foot serves the needs of a family of five for one year. Arizona is one of the driest states in the U.S., and one of the fastest-growing. Arizona’s current population is over 6 million (2010 Census) and is projected to grow to as many as 9.5 million people by 2025. Encompassing four deserts, Arizona receives a statewide average of only 12.5 inches of rain per year. Our climate presents intense challenges in balancing our water needs between ourselves, our neighbors, and our riparian ecosystemsWater has defined our past and will determine our future.

“Water has defined our past and will determine our future”!

Let me skip a couple of paragraphs and continue, thus:

Water Budget: Usage and recharge

How much water do we ​use?

Based on Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) data from 2001–2005, Arizona uses approximately 6.96 million acre-feet of water annually. A 2008 estimate by the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center places that value as high as 8 million acre-feet. Collaborative estimates place the actual water used in Arizona at between 7.25 million and 7.75 million acre-feet annually. That’s about 2.4–2.5 trillion gallons a year.

 How do we use water?

Water in Arizona is used for cultural purposes (for and by people) and for in-stream uses, such as for the support of fish and riparian ecosystems.

Arizona's cultural use of water. Values based on Arizona Department of Water Resources.
Arizona’s cultural use of water. Values based on Arizona Department of Water Resources.
Approximately 69% of the available water supply in Arizona is used for agriculture.
Approximately 69% of the available water supply in Arizona is used for agriculture.

Again, skipping forward.

Values based on Arizona Department of Water Resources ABC’s of Water.
Values based on Arizona Department of Water Resources ABC’s of Water.

Water Sources

Arizona gets water from three major sources: surface water (which includes Colorado River water and water from other major rivers and streams), groundwater, and effluent or reclaimed water.

Groundwater

About 43% of the state’s water use comes from groundwater sources. Groundwater is found beneath the earth’s surface in natural reservoirs called aquifers. In most cases the aquifers that store water have been in place for millions of years. Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, groundwater has been pumped out more rapidly than it has been replenished, creating a condition called overdraft. Though a large amount of water remains stored in Arizona’s aquifers, its availability is limited by location, depth and quality. By continuing to overdraft the state’s groundwater supplies, we challenge our ability to ensure a secure water supply for the future. In recognition of this threat, Arizona implemented the Groundwater Management Code in 1980. The Groundwater Code promotes water conservation and long-range planning of our water resources.

Colorado River Water

A separate category of surface water in Arizona is the water supplied through the Colorado River. The federal government constructed a system of reservoirs on the river to harness its supplies for use in several states. Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, and Mexico share the river’s resources. Rights to use Colorado River water are quantified by a string of legal authorities known as the “Law of the River.” Based on this body of law, Arizona has the right to use 2.8 million acre-feet annually of Colorado River water. Mohave, La Paz, and Yuma county water users rely on Colorado River as their principal water supply. When fully utilized, the Central Arizona Project (CAP) will deliver an annual average of 1.5 million acre-feet of Colorado River water to Maricopa, Pinal and Pima Counties.

Other Surface Water

Surface water from lakes, rivers, and streams is Arizona’s major renewable water resource. However, because of our desert climate, the amount of surface water available can vary dramatically from year to year, season to season, and place to place. In order to make the best use of the surface water when and where it is needed, storage reservoirs and delivery systems have been constructed throughout the state. Most notable are the major reservoir storage systems located on the Salt, Verde, Gila and Agua Fria rivers. Almost all of the natural surface water in Arizona has been developed.

Effluent

Reclaimed water, or effluent, is the one increasing water source in our state. As our population and water use grows, more treated wastewater will be available. Reclaimed water is treated to a quality that can be used for purposes such as agriculture, golf courses, parks, industrial cooling, or maintenance of wildlife areas.

Information made available by the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the University of Arizona Water Resources Research Center.

Since it is impossible to measure the exact values of water used across a state, some variance of values must be tolerated.

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So take the message from yesterday’s post and then from above: “Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, groundwater has been pumped out more rapidly than it has been replenished, creating a condition called overdraft. Though a large amount of water remains stored in Arizona’s aquifers, its availability is limited by location, depth and quality. By continuing to overdraft the state’s groundwater supplies, we challenge our ability to ensure a secure water supply for the future.“, and remember that 2 + 2 = 4!  I.e. the power of logic.

Now to close with that personal perspective.

When Jean and I were living in Payson, Arizona, we were close to town but not so close as to be on Payson City’s water supply.  Thus we had a well on our land.  If I recall, the depth of the drilled well was about 250 feet and the water level was about 80 feet below ground surface.  We had been told from the house survey that the ‘normal’ water level was about 35 feet down.  While we were there the water level slowly, but steadily, continued to drop.

We were both very happy in Payson; indeed it is where Jean and I were married.

However, one night, I would guess last June, 2012, I had this weird dream that I had gone to the bathroom during the night, turned on the cold-water tap and nothing had flowed out.  Bizarre dream, wouldn’t you say!  But even more bizarre was that the image of no water was in my mind when I awoke in the morning, and I couldn’t shrug off a distinct feeling of disquiet.  That all lead to us coming up to Oregon, finding this wonderful property with an all-year creek, Bummer Creek, running through our land, and moving in on October 25th, 2012.

Funny old world at times!

Pharaoh enjoying Bummer Creek.
Pharaoh enjoying Bummer Creek.

Just about water.

Having no drinking water puts every other aspect of living in the shade!

Yesterday afternoon, around 4pm, local thunderstorm activity produced some rain.  Not much but sufficient to wet the ground.  It brought to an end several weeks of intense drought complicated by what is now more than 55,000 acres of fires burning in southwest Oregon: more details here.

Oregon Wildfires
A Redmond Hotshots crew on the Douglas Complex conducts a burnout operation to create a barrier to the wildfire’s advance by removing fuel in its path.

Anyway, this is not about fire, irrespective of how potentially dangerous it can be in this part of the world, it is about water. So with that in mind, here’s a recent ‘Tomgram‘ from William deBuys, with introduction by Tom Engelhardt; republished with Tom’s generous permission.

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Tomgram: William deBuys, Goodbye to All That (Water)

Martha and the Vandellas would have loved it.  Metaphorically speaking, the New York Times practically swooned over it.  (“An unforgiving heat wave held much of the West in a sweltering embrace over the weekend, tying or breaking temperature records in several cities, grounding flights, sparking forest fires, and contributing to deaths.”) It was a “deadly” heat wave, a “record” one that, in headlines everywhere, left the West and later the rest of the country “sweltering,” and that was, again in multiple headlines, “scary.”  The fire season that accompanied the “blasting,” “blazing” heat had its own set of “record” headlines — and all of this was increasingly seen, in another set of headlines, as the “new normal” in the West. Given that 2012 had already set a heat record for the continental U.S., that the 10 hottest years on record in this country have all occurred since 1997, and that the East had its own sweltering version of heat that wouldn’t leave town, this should have been beyond arresting.

In response, the nightly primetime news came up with its own convenient set of new terms to describe all this: “extreme” or “severe” heat.  Like “extreme” or “severe” weather, these captured the eyeball-gluing sensationalism of our weather moment without having to mention climate change or global warming.  Weather, after all, shouldn’t be “politicized.”  But if you’re out in the middle of the parching West like TomDispatch regular William deBuys, who recently headed down the Colorado River, certain grim realities about the planet we’re planning to hand over to our children and grandchildren can’t help but come to mind — along with a feeling, increasingly shared by those in the sweltering cities, that our particular way of life is in the long run unsustainable. Tom

Never Again Enough

Field Notes from a Drying West 

By William deBuys

Several miles from Phantom Ranch, Grand Canyon, Arizona, April 2013 — Down here, at the bottom of the continent’s most spectacular canyon, the Colorado River growls past our sandy beach in a wet monotone. Our group of 24 is one week into a 225-mile, 18-day voyage on inflatable rafts from Lees Ferry to Diamond Creek. We settle in for the night. Above us, the canyon walls part like a pair of maloccluded jaws, and moonlight streams between them, bright enough to read by.

One remarkable feature of the modern Colorado, the great whitewater rollercoaster that carved the Grand Canyon, is that it is a tidal river. Before heading for our sleeping bags, we need to retie our six boats to allow for the ebb.

These days, the tides of the Colorado are not lunar but Phoenician. Yes, I’m talking about Phoenix, Arizona.  On this April night, when the air conditioners in America’s least sustainable city merely hum, Glen Canyon Dam, immediately upstream from the canyon, will run about 6,500 cubic feet of water through its turbines every second.

Tomorrow, as the sun begins its daily broiling of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Tempe, and the rest of central Arizona, the engineers at Glen Canyon will crank the dam’s maw wider until it sucks down 11,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). That boost in flow will enable its hydroelectric generators to deliver “peaking power” to several million air conditioners and cooling plants in Phoenix’s Valley of the Sun. And the flow of the river will therefore nearly double.

It takes time for these dam-controlled tidal pulses to travel downstream. Where we are now, just above Zoroaster Rapid, the river is roughly in phase with the dam: low at night, high in the daytime. Head a few days down the river and it will be the reverse.

By mid-summer, temperatures in Phoenix will routinely soar above 110°F, and power demands will rise to monstrous heights, day and night. The dam will respond: 10,000 cfs will gush through the generators by the light of the moon, 18,000 while an implacable sun rules the sky.

Such are the cycles — driven by heat, comfort, and human necessity — of the river at the bottom of the continent’s grandest canyon.

The crucial question for Phoenix, for the Colorado, and for the greater part of the American West is this: How long will the water hold out?

Major Powell’s Main Point

Every trip down the river — and there are more than 1,000 like ours yearly — partly reenacts the legendary descent of the Colorado by the one-armed explorer and Civil War veteran John Wesley Powell. The Major, as he preferred to be known, plunged into the Great Unknown with 10 companions in 1869. They started out in four boats from Green River, Wyoming, but one of the men walked out early after nearly drowning in the stretch of whitewater that Powell named Disaster Falls, and three died in the desert after the expedition fractured in its final miles. That left Powell and six others to reach the Mormon settlements on the Virgin River in the vicinity of present-day Las Vegas, Nevada.

Powell’s exploits on the Colorado brought him fame and celebrity, which he parlayed into a career that turned out to be controversial and illustrious in equal measure. As geologist, geographer, and ethnologist, Powell became one of the nation’s most influential scientists. He also excelled as an institution-builder, bureaucrat, political in-fighter, and national scold.

Most famously, and in bold opposition to the boomers and boosters then cheerleading America’s westward migration, he warned that the defining characteristic of western lands was their aridity. Settlement of the West, he wrote, would have to respect the limits aridity imposed.

He was half right.

The subsequent story of the West can indeed be read as an unending duel between society’s thirst and the dryness of the land, but in downtown Phoenix, Las Vegas, or Los Angeles you’d hardly know it.

By the middle years of the twentieth century, western Americans had created a kind of miracle in the desert, successfully conjuring abundance from Powell’s aridity. Thanks to reservoirs large and small, and scores of dams including colossi like Hoover and Glen Canyon, as well as more than 1,000 miles of aqueducts and countless pumps, siphons, tunnels, and diversions, the West has by now been thoroughly re-rivered and re-engineered. It has been given the plumbing system of a giant water-delivery machine, and in the process, its liquid resources have been stretched far beyond anything the Major might have imagined.

Today the Colorado River, the most fully harnessed of the West’s great waterways, provides water to some 40 million people and irrigates nearly 5.5 million acres of farmland. It also touches 22 Indian reservations, seven National Wildlife Reservations, and at least 15 units of the National Park System, including the Grand Canyon.

These achievements come at a cost. The Colorado River no longer flows to the sea, and down here in the bowels of the canyon, its diminishment is everywhere in evidence. In many places, the riverbanks wear a tutu of tamarisk trees along their edge. They have been able to dress up, now that the river, constrained from major flooding, no longer rips their clothes off.

The daily hydroelectric tides gradually wash away the sandbars and beaches that natural floods used to build with the river’s silt and bed load (the sands and gravels that roll along its bottom). Nowadays, nearly all that cargo is trapped in Lake Powell, the enormous reservoir behind Glen Canyon Dam. The water the dam releases is clear and cold (drawn from the depths of the lake), which is just the thing for nonnative trout, but bad news for homegrown chubs and suckers, which evolved, quite literally, in the murk of ages past. Some of the canyon’s native fish species have been extirpated from the canyon; others cling to life by a thread, helped by the protection of the Endangered Species Act. In the last few days, we’ve seen more fisheries biologists along the river and its side-streams than we have tourists.

The Shrinking Cornucopia

In the arid lands of the American West, abundance has a troublesome way of leading back again to scarcity. If you have a lot of something, you find a way to use it up — at least, that’s the history of the “development” of the Colorado Basin.

Until now, the ever-more-complex water delivery systems of that basin have managed to meet the escalating needs of their users. This is true in part because the states of the Upper Basin (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico) were slower to develop than their downstream cousins. Under theColorado River Compact of 1922, the Upper and Lower Basins divided the river with the Upper Basin assuring the Lower of an average of 7.5 million acre-feet (maf) of water per year delivered to Lees Ferry Arizona, the dividing point between the two. The Upper Basin would use the rest. Until recently, however, it left a large share of its water in the river, which California, and secondarily Arizona and Nevada, happily put to use.

Those days are gone.  The Lower Basin states now get only their annual entitlement and no more. Unfortunately for them, it’s not enough, and never will be.

Currently, the Lower Basin lives beyond its means — to the tune of about 1.3 maf per year, essentially consuming 117% of its allocation.

That 1.3 maf overage consists of evaporation, system losses, and the Lower Basin’s share of the annual U.S. obligation to Mexico of 1.5 maf. As it happens, the region budgets for none of these “costs” of doing business, and if pressed, some of its leaders will argue that the Mexican treaty is actually a federal responsibility, toward which the Lower Basin need not contribute water.

The Lower Basin funds its deficit by drawing on the accumulated water surplus held in the nation’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, which backs up behind Hoover Dam. Unfortunately, with the Lower Basin using more water than it receives, the surplus there can’t last forever, and maybe not for long. In November 2010, the water level of the lake fell to its lowest elevation ever — 1,082 feet above sea level, a foot lower than its previous nadir during the fierce drought of the 1950s.

Had the dry weather held — and increasing doses of such weather are predicted for the region in the future — the reservoir would have soon fallen another seven feet and triggered the threshold for mandatory (but inadequate) cutbacks in water delivery to the Lower Basin states. Instead, heavy snowfall in the northern Rockies bailed out the system by producing a mighty runoff, lifting the reservoir a whopping 52 feet.

Since then, however, weather throughout the Colorado Basin has been relentlessly dry, and the lake has resumed its precipitous fall. It now stands at 1,106 feet, which translates to roughly 47% of capacity.  Lake Powell, Mead’s alter ego, is in about the same condition.

Another dry year or two, and the Colorado system will be back where it was in 2010, staring down a crisis.  There is, however, a consolation — of sorts.  The Colorado is nowhere near as badly off as New Mexico and the Rio Grande.

How Dry I Am This Side of the Pecos

In May, New Mexico marked the close of the driest two-year period in the 120 years since records began to be kept. Its largest reservoir, Elephant Butte, which stores water from the Rio Grande, is effectively dry.

Meanwhile, parched Texas has filed suit against New Mexico in multiple jurisdictions, including the Supreme Court, to force the state to send more water downstream — water it doesn’t have. Texas has already appropriated $5 million to litigate the matter.  If it wins, the hit taken by agriculture in south-central New Mexico could be disastrous.

In eastern New Mexico, the woes of the Pecos River mirror those of the Rio Grande and pit the Pecos basin’s two largest cities, Carlsbad and Roswell, directly against each other. These days, the only thing moving in the irrigation canals of the Carlsbad Irrigation District is dust. The canals are bone dry because upstream groundwater pumping in the Roswell area has deprived the Pecos River of its flow. By pumping heavily from wells that tap the aquifer under the Pecos River, Roswell’s farmers have drawn off water that might otherwise find its way to the surface and flow downstream.

Carlsbad’s water rights are senior to (that is, older than) Roswell’s, so in theory — under the doctrine of Prior Appropriation — Carlsbad is entitled to the water Roswell is using. The dispute pits Carlsbad’s substantial agricultural economy against Roswell’s, which is twice as big. The bottom line, as with Texas’s lawsuit over the Rio Grande, is that there simply isn’t enough water to go around.

If you want to put your money on one surefire bet in the Southwest, it’s this: one way or another, however these or any other onrushing disputes turn out, large numbers of farmers are going to go out of business.

Put on Your Rain-Dancing Shoes

New Mexico’s present struggles, difficult as they may be, will look small-scale indeed when compared to what will eventually befall the Colorado. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation expects the river’s 40 million water-users to grow to between 49.3 and 76.5 million by 2060. This translates into a thirst for Colorado River water of 18.1 to 20.4 maf — oceans more than its historical yield of 16.4 maf.

And that’s not even the bad news, which is that, compared to the long-term paleo-record, the historical average, compiled since the late nineteenth century, is aberrantly high. Moreover, climate change will undoubtedly take its toll, and perhaps has already begun to do so. One recent study forecasts that the yield of the Colorado will decline 10% by about 2030, and it will keep falling after that.

None of the available remedies inspires much confidence. “Augmentation” — diverting water from another basin into the Colorado system — is politically, if not economically, infeasible. Desalination, which can be effective in specific, local situations, is too expensive and energy-consuming to slake much of the Southwest’s thirst. Weather modification, aka rain-making, isn’t much more effective today than it was in 1956 when Burt Lancaster starred as a water-witching con man in The Rainmaker, and vegetation management (so that trees and brush will consume less water) is a non-starter when climate change and epidemic fires are already reworking the landscape.

Undoubtedly, there will be small successes squeezing water from unlikely sources here and there, but the surest prospect for the West?  That a bumper harvest of lawsuits is approaching. Water lawyers in the region can look forward to full employment for decades to come. Their clients will include irrigation farmers, thirsty cities, and power companies that need water to cool their thermal generators and to drive their hydroelectric generators.

Count on it: the recreation industry, which demands water for boating and other sports, will be filing its briefs, too, as will environmental groups struggling to prevent endangered species and whole ecosystems from blinking out. The people of the West will not only watch them; they — or rather, we — will all in one way or another be among them as they gather before various courts in the legal equivalent of circular firing squads.

Hey, Mister, What’s that Sound?

Here at the bottom of Grand Canyon, with the river rushing by, we listen for the boom of the downstream rapids toward which we are headed. Sometimes they sound like a far-off naval bombardment, sometimes more like the roar of an oncoming freight train, which is entirely appropriate. After all, the river, like a railroad, is a delivery system with a valuable cargo. Think of it as a stream of liquid property, every pint within it already spoken for, every drop owned by someone and obligated somewhere, according to a labyrinth of potentially conflicting contracts.

The owners of those contracts know now that the river can’t supply enough gallons, pints, and drops to satisfy everybody, and so they are bound to live the truth of the old western saying: “Whiskey’s for drinkin’, and water’s for fightin’.”

In the end, Powell was right about at least one thing: aridity bats last.

William deBuys, a TomDispatch regular, irrigates a small farm in northern New Mexico and is the author of seven books including, most recently, A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest.

Copyright 2013 William deBuys

oooOOOooo

The stuff of life: literally.
The stuff of life: literally.

If readers will forgive me, I will continue the theme tomorrow with a rather more personal perspective.

The connection between man and climate.

The voice of science

This summer has seen nature visiting on man a series of catastrophes.  To name just a few, we have the record-breaking rainfall in Britain in June, the Colorado wildfires and the 1,400,000 storm-struck households in the eastern US.

Colorado burning

Inevitably, many wonder if this is connected to climate change as a result of mankind’s behaviours.  Many now believe so.

But we have to stand on the rock of science.

So it was great to come across a recent article on Grist that led me to this organisation, Climate Communication.  As they say on the About Us page,

Climate Communication is a non-profit science and outreach project funded by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the ClimateWorks Foundation. Climate Communication operates as a project of the Aspen Global Change Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering the scientific understanding of Earth systems and global environmental change.

The article on Grist that had caught my eye was this one, Did climate change ’cause’ the Colorado wildfires? and within that article there was the link to Climate Communication, viz: That much we know with a high degree of confidence, as this excellent review of the latest science by Climate Communication makes clear.

That review on Climate Communication includes the following video,

Not convinced?

Then try this evidence from an interview with Kevin Trenberth of the National Center for Atmospheric Research shown on PBS Newshour,

Want more?  Go for it!

The PBS video came from the British Guardian newspaper (link thanks to Naked Capitalism).  The Guardian reported,

Is it now possible to blame extreme weather on global warming?

Wildfires, heatwaves and storms witnessed in the US are ‘what global warming looks like’, say climate scientists

Posted by Leo Hickman
Tuesday 3 July 2012

Whenever an episode of extreme weather – heatwave, flood, drought, etc – hits the headlines, someone somewhere is sure to point the finger of blame at human-induced climate change.

Such claims are normally slapped down with the much-aired mantra: “You cannot blame a single episode of bad weather on global warming.” But with the on-going record high temperatures affecting large parts of the US, there seems to be a noticeable reduction in such caveats and notes of caution.

This week, scientists have been queuing up, it seems, to explain how the wildfires in Colorado, the heatwave across the eastern seaboard, and the “super derecho” are all indicative of “what global warming looks like“. Most pulled back, though, from directly blaming global warming for such weather events.

“In the future you would expect larger, longer more intense heat waves and we’ve seen that in the last few summers,” Derek Arndt of NOAA Climate Monitoring told the Associated Press.” The same report added: “At least 15 climate scientists told the Associated Press that this long hot US summer is consistent with what is to be expected in global warming.”

So, can we now say, or not, that specific extreme weather events are caused, or at least exacerbated, by global warming? Has anything changed in climate scientists’ understanding of the attribution – or “anthropogenic fingerprint” – of such events? Are they now more confident about making such links?

I put this question to a number of climate scientists ….

Leo Hickman then reports the assessments of eight leading scientists.  Go and read their words here.  If you can do it now!

The science is solid!

So as you watch these scientists talking about the meaning of climate extremes think what you can do today to reduce your own impact on this planet.  Just as importantly, think how you can influence those around you and those that represent you that now is the time to wake up to the fact that nature is telling us to slow down!

As I said in a comment to a post on Tuesday,

The growth in awareness of what we are doing to the planet is astounding. There is hope, we have to promote hope and we have to acknowledge that hope is a powerful agent of change.