Western Drought

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RedRoxx44
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Western Drought

Post by RedRoxx44 » Aug 20 2013 5:52 pm

From Dr. Jeff Masters Wonderblog ( on Weather Underground)

For the first time in history, the U.S. government has ordered that flow of Colorado River water from the 50-year-old Glen Canyon Dam be slashed, due to a water crisis brought about by the region's historic 14-year drought. On Friday, the Federal Bureau of Reclamation--a division of the Department of Interior that manages water and electric power in the West--announced that it would cut water released from Lake Powell's Glen Canyon Dam by 750,000 acre-feet in 2014. An acre-foot is the amount of water that will cover an acre of land one foot deep; 750,000 acre-feet is enough water to supply at least 750,000 homes for one year. The flow reduction will leave the Colorado River 9% below the 8.23 million acre feet that is supposed to be supplied downstream to Lake Mead for use in California, Nevada, Arizona and Mexico under the Colorado River Compact of 1922 and later agreements. "This is the worst 14-year drought period in the last hundred years," said Upper Colorado Regional Director Larry Walkoviak in a Bureau of Reclamation press release.

In the winter of 2005, Lake Powell reached its lowest level since filling, an elevation 150' below full pool. Lake levels recovered some in during 2005 - 2011, but the resurgence of severe to extreme drought conditions have provoked a steep decline in 2012 and 2013, with the lake falling 35' over the past year. As of August 18, 2013, Lake Powell was 109' below full pool (45% of capacity), and was falling at a rate of one foot every six days."


Get ready for higher water prices and stricter conservation ???

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Jim_H
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Re: Western Drought

Post by Jim_H » Aug 20 2013 5:59 pm

Interesting. 14 years is getting to be a long time, perhaps this is more of a new normal, with wet years being unusual, and dry the normal. I guess it might mean exciting river runs through the Grand Canyon?

BTW, I know it has nearly zero affect on Arizona, but the Rio Grande has been dry, below the dams in mid-state, more than it has been wet since I lived here, and the lakes were at their lowest levels in over 100 years, this spring. Basically if I recall correctly, there was next to no water in them by late winter. Until monsoon storms started to bring mud choked water into the river bed, it was dry above the dams. I cross the river on US 380 near Socorro and it was dry until mid July. There is an irrigation canal that often had water in it, but the river was dry.
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Re: Western Drought

Post by chumley » Aug 20 2013 10:44 pm

It will be interesting to see. On the east coast during drought years I have experienced water restrictions prohibiting watering lawns and washing cars. But here in the desert I don't recall ever experiencing that kind of thing. Perhaps its time has come?

On the other hand, even at a drop of a foot per week, the water level still won't reach the historic low from 2005. So why are they deciding to reduce the flow now?
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Re: Western Drought

Post by azbackpackr » Aug 21 2013 11:48 am

And why did they run it at 25,000 the summer of 2011, if they already knew we were in a drought? Of course, the incoming water was running higher than 25,000 when they decided to do that. Right now they are fluctuating it between about 9500 and 17,500 per hydroelectric usage. Last year, this week, virtually the exact same releases were occurring.

http://nwis.waterdata.usgs.gov/az/nwis/ ... o=09380000
http://waterdata.usgs.gov/az/nwis/uv/?s ... 0065,00060
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Jim_H
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Re: Western Drought

Post by Jim_H » Aug 21 2013 7:51 pm

chumley wrote:It will be interesting to see. On the east coast during drought years I have experienced water restrictions prohibiting watering lawns and washing cars. But here in the desert I don't recall ever experiencing that kind of thing. Perhaps its time has come?

On the other hand, even at a drop of a foot per week, the water level still won't reach the historic low from 2005. So why are they deciding to reduce the flow now?
I think they enact restrictions back east because they use so much of it all the time. Waste really. They waste so much water back there, they literally let it fall from the sky.

Probably a number of reasons why they want to restrict here in the nexus of the world, from expectations for the future, to the dryness over the region, to a desire to not go so low.
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Re: Western Drought

Post by Dschur » Aug 22 2013 1:06 pm

Payson has been on water restrictions quite a few years... odd and even watering times, no car washing in driveway.. but nothing on using other water in homes.. now with the pipeline coming from Blue Ridge supposedly the only city in the state with water. So we can grow again... :(
http://www.paysonroundup.com/news/2013/ ... -pipeline/
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Re: Western Drought

Post by Jim_H » Jun 26 2015 7:43 am

http://t.co/EqzIADc2H2
http://lakemead.water-data.com/ Currently at 1074.81'

That link should open a PDF with a source talking about the cuts to CAP water, which so far appears to be the only cuts, with the new low Lake Mead water level. Mead is down to 1075', triggering the cuts. If I read the document properly, Tucson's ground water recharge must stop (Page 2). However, this is slightly unclear as it state municipal use is not affected. I interpret this to mean direct use, not recharge, and so this summer the recharge lakes out west of the Tucson Mountains should go dry.
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Re: Western Drought

Post by chumley » Jun 26 2015 7:56 am

My understanding is that the cuts won't be implemented yet because though the level just fell to below 1075, it has to be below 1075 at the end of the water year to trigger the cuts, and the water managers anticipate that runoff from spring snow will fill the reservoir to a level above 1075. For at least another year.
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Re: Western Drought

Post by azbackpackr » Feb 13 2019 5:01 am

So, things are looking up this year, as far as snow pack in the Rockies and other areas. The Sierras are going great, but they don't feed the Colorado River. I just hope water management agencies make best use of the water, since the drought is not likely to be over with. The snow pack is currently mostly at or above 100% of average. Both Lake Powell and Lake Mead remain very low, although not at all-time lows. I'll be interested to see how the lake levels are affected after spring runoff.

Upper Colorado River watershed snowpack:
https://wcc.sc.egov.usda.gov/reports/Up ... MFNhvSUY6M

Lower Colorado River watershed snowpack:
https://wcc.sc.egov.usda.gov/reports/Up ... cRMp11-to4

Lake Powell water level graph, covering one year:
http://lakepowell.water-data.com/

Lake Mead water level graph covering a couple of years:
http://mead.uslakes.info/level.asp
Last edited by azbackpackr on Feb 13 2019 5:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Western Drought

Post by Pivo » Feb 13 2019 5:46 am

azbackpackr wrote:The Sierras are going great, but they don't feed the Colorado River.
That is true, however they provide water to the largest state in the Colorado River Basin, and if there is enough snow pack it helps reduce the load on the Colorado River usage.

It's important that all of the Western states receive adequate precipitation annually. It provides water for drinking, agricultural, and helps reduce wildfires.
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Re: Western Drought

Post by azbackpackr » Feb 13 2019 5:57 am

@Pivo
Good points! I'd hoped to start an interesting discussion, thanks! The Sierras provide water to L.A. municipal, and to the vast San Joaquin Valley farms, among other places, so I can see that if they have enough they wouldn't need as much of the Colorado River water.
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Re: Western Drought

Post by Nighthiker » Feb 13 2019 7:44 am

Locally, C. C. Cragin (formally Blue Ridge) is reportedly at 87 % and still rising.
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Re: Western Drought

Post by Jim_H » Feb 13 2019 8:04 am

I heard an interview the other day where it was stated the one of the largest water users (there are many) in California is alfalfa and hay production. Not for domestic use, but to ship to China and the middle east, largely for dairy production. California in a good or normal year can not meet it's water demands on snow melt from the Sierra Nevada or Colorado river supplies, it has to use ground water, something like a 1/3 in those years. Far more in bad ones, like 2015.

In Arizona, we had been pretty stable until we tied on to the Colorado and began to ship water to the SE via the CAP. Pinal county farmers will lose big if there are supply cut backs from the Colorado. We are actually much the same, with Saudi Arabian's buying land with old water rights so they can grow and ship hay and alfalfa home for their cattle. We could be in a terrible drought, but if there are supplies they can still grow and ship, essentially shipping water from Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico to Arabia. But the cities?

The fire risk is not as easy to mitigate with winter rain or snow, alone. Warm dry summers, summer drought in the 4 corners that dries vegetation in the growing season, and the long talked about overgrowth of vegetation aren't fixed in a 2 month precipitation period. It might be important that ALL western states receive water, but that isn't reality. Nor is it reality that the water that comes be snow, or consistent. Whether you still think global warming is a hoax or you think it is the single greatest threat liberal man has ever known, fact remains that droughts in the west have always occurred, with today's being something like the really bad drought in the 800 to 1200 years ago. We made it worse, though, by altering the ecosystems.

The new agreement between the Colorado basin states might affect us more in 5, 10, or 30 years. What will the economics of water dictate happening? Obviously, the extremist arguments of Las Vegas or Phoenix not existing are crap, but what will farmers grow?
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Re: Western Drought

Post by chumley » Feb 13 2019 8:46 am

Wow. I'm so glad there's still a thread about weather! :doh:

NWS Flag posted the following graphic the other day. This will bump up nicely tomorrow in most areas. The post did indicate that the far northeast part of their forecast area is still well below normal. (Chuskas, Navajoland, etc.)
Image
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Re: Western Drought

Post by Jim_H » Feb 13 2019 8:54 am

chumley wrote:
Feb 13 2019 8:46 am
Wow. I'm so glad there's still a thread about weather! :doh:

Excuse me, Todd! This is a thread about climate! There is a difference. The weather thread is dead, and completely different. However, I did see someone posting a, "I got xx of rain last week", or something like that.

hey, at least someone is trying to breath a little life in the now dead forum that only seems to exist for AZ trail newbies
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Re: Western Drought

Post by CannondaleKid » Feb 13 2019 9:04 am

Weather = Climate?
Jim_H wrote:
Feb 13 2019 8:54 am
There is a difference.
Really? Tell that to our current White House occupant. :stp: [-(
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Re: Western Drought

Post by chumley » Feb 13 2019 9:13 am

I just enjoy the fact that all the people who had blocked the thread about weather now get to see this one! :sweat:
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Re: Western Drought

Post by azbackpackr » Feb 13 2019 11:19 am

@chumley
It seems to me that talking about the weather is a way for people of diverse beliefs to find some agreement. Or not! :D

Anyway, I brought this thread back, not to talk about the weather itself, but more to discuss the possible recharge of water to the river, and to the various reservoirs and aquifers. I'd like to see whether the government agencies and politicians currently grappling about the lack of water in the Colorado River will see fit to conserve some of it during a wet year. We may not have another wet year in a decade, who knows? I hope that won't be the case... I'd also like to see another major pulse flow into the Delta, and a bigger daily flow to the Delta.

We were supposed to be seeing a "drying trend" for the rest of the winter, according to one theory I heard back in early January. Ha! Glad to see yet another storm coming, although I had to change my plans for Thursday. We are supposed to be experiencing an "atmospheric river" over in my area tomorrow.
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Re: Western Drought

Post by RedRoxx44 » Feb 13 2019 11:26 am

Nice to see I was somewhat lucid in 2013.

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Re: Western Drought

Post by Alston_Neal » Feb 13 2019 1:36 pm

RedRoxx44 wrote:
Feb 13 2019 11:26 am
Nice to see I was somewhat lucid in 2013.
Oh good there's hope for some of us.
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