Aug 13 2014
Water-The third Rail Part XXVII Cutting our share of the Colorado
San Diego’s drought is three years old, with no end in sight. Less
publicized is the ten year drought for the Colorado River basin, County that
has dropped Lake Mead to its lowest level since it began filling in 1939,
the source of sixty percent of the water imported into San Diego
An eye-popping event occurred just a few days ago that has had virtually no
coverage in any media this blog can find. Snell & Wilmer, a California law
firm is paying attention.
They published a blog headlined, “The United States and Several Western
Water Providers Enter into a Historic Agreement to Mitigate the Effects of
the Drought Affecting the Colorado River System” by Cynthia M. Chandley, L.
William Staudenmaier, Christopher W. Payne and Karlene E. Martorana
Given the historic nature of the agreement affecting the socio-economic
basis of this region and somewhere in the range of twenty million people you
would think it might be important enough to get one or two column inches in
print media and a few seconds on a news broadcast. But it didn’t. Why not?
The reason could be that journalists just have not connected the dots about
our water supply. They take it for granted. The water still comes out of the
shower head in the morning. The coffee pot gets filled from the kitchen tap.
The toilets still flush. It has been this way all of their lives and must be
the way it is. All of this talk about drought, and saving water, and not
washing the car in the street, or watering more than three times a week, or
turning off the water when brushing teeth, or any other stuff like that is
just static that must be endured to make it through the day.
Quoting from the email, “On July 30, 2014, the United States Bureau of
Reclamation (Reclamation) entered into a landmark Colorado River System
Conservation Program Agreement with the Central Arizona Water Conservation
District, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, Denver
Water and the Southern Nevada Water Authority. The purpose of the agreement
is to establish a pilot program (the Program) that would encourage water
conservation by compensating Colorado River water users for voluntary
reductions in water use in order to keep water levels in Lakes Mead and
Powell above critically low elevations. Potential conservation options
include increasing water efficiency and fallowing existing agricultural
Granted this is just a pilot program. Its importance lies in the fact that
never before in Colorado River water history since the Colorado River
Compact was set up in 1922 has such a program been necessary. Ninety-two
years have elapsed. In the interim the population drawing on the river has
virtually exploded, and to make matters worse the water flows upon which the
original compact was based on have never been seen since. This ten year
drought has magnified the issues.
The concluding paragraph in the blog says: “Although the Program is merely a
pilot program that cannot fully offset the effects of the ongoing drought,
the projects that may come out of the Program could provide the basis for
significant future water efficiencies and reductions in water usage that
could benefit all parties and increase the viability of the Colorado River
system for current and future generations.”
This blog’s translation of that conclusion is, look, we are giving you fair
warning you may not be getting your historical allocation of Colorado River
water in the future, so get off your derrieres and figure out how to do
without it. Potable recycling comes to mind. Is anybody listening besides
Snell and Wilmer?
About Alumni at the University of Montana