Two water experts talk about the Colorado River crisis ~ Ten Across

MAY 12, 2022 

The historic megadrought in the western United States, compounded by human-caused climate change, has curtailed the flow of the Colorado River to critical levels with no relief in sight. However, keen observers predicted this situation over a century ago, so how did we end up here?

Listen in as Ten Across founder Duke Reiter talks to water experts Anne Castle and John Fleck about the history and future of the Colorado River including the 40 million people and 5 million acres of farmland that rely on its diminishing water supply.

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW WITH TEN ACROSS

Additional resources:

Green Light for Adaptive Policies on the Colorado River” by John Fleck & Anne Castle here: 

Science Be Dammed: How Ignoring Inconvenient Science Drained the Colorado River by John Fleck & Eric : 

Guest Speakers

Anne Castle is a senior fellow at the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy, and the Environment at the University of Colorado Law School. From 2009 to 2014, she was Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at the U.S. Department of the Interior 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. She previously practiced water law for many years with the Rocky Mountain law firm of Holland & Hart.

John Fleck is a former science journalist, studying and writing about the challenges of coping with less water in North America’s arid southwest. His books Science Be Dammed: How Ignoring Inconvenient Science Drained the Colorado River and Water is For Fighting Over: And Other Myths About Water in the West have challenged traditional narratives about the region’s water problems, helping provide a foundation for adapting to climate change.

Unaweep Canyon targeted by Xcel for hydropower dam ~ The Colorado Sun

Jason Blevins

May 22, 2022

UNAWEEP DIVIDE — The honey bees are over there, by the organic garden. The peregrines nest up on the cliffs. A mess of metates — Native American grinding stones — are over in the dense pinion. Every winter the elk gather in the meadow below the granite cliffs. There’s a table up in those cliffs, for “sunset dinner on the rocks,” said Paul Ashcraft. 

A few months ago, Ashcraft and several of his neighbors at the highest point in Unaweep Canyon saw a plan proposed by Xcel Energy to build a hydro power plant that will help the company reach its renewable energy goals. The plan put a 75-foot dam holding back the edge of an 88-acre reservoir in Ashcraft’s front yard. The proposal also puts his neighbors’ homes and Colorado 141 underwater. 

CONTINUE READING AT COLORADO SUN

KENYAN ON FIRST ALL-BLACK TEAM TO SUMMIT EVEREST ~ NPR

May 21, 2022

ARI DANIEL

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW

When James “KG” Kagambi was 23, he climbed Mount Kenya in his homeland, the second tallest peak in Africa — and swore he’d never do it again. “I hated it,” he recalls. “By the time I got to 15,000 feet, I had headaches.” But then he encountered a magical substance for the first time. “I just loved snow. I touched it and knew that I like this. I was looking back [at the summit] and saying, ‘You know what? I want to go back there right now.’ After that, I couldn’t stop.”

He soon left his job as a geography, music, and physical education teacher of grades 5 through 8. And for 39 years, Kagambi has climbed the peaks of the world. He’s summited Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania “so many zillion times,” Denali twice, and Aconcagua (the highest peak in the Americas), among others. He’s taught mountaineering from Patagonia to the Rockies, and he’s trained climbers and guides the world over. Then, in 2020, he was invited to join the first all-Black climbing team to summit Mount Everest.

CONTINUE READING ON NPR

Snowpack in southern Colorado disappears, drought worsens ~ Denver 7 News

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By: Blair Miller

May 13, 2022 

Snowpack and drought levels comparable to fire-plagued summers of 2002, 2018

Southern Colorado’s snowpack is already on its last legs, reaching levels for this point in May only seen twice in the past 20 years – 2002 and 2018, which were both marked by large and destructive wildfires and widespread drought.

DENVER – Southern Colorado’s snowpack is already on its last legs, reaching levels for this point in May only seen twice in the past 20 years – 2002 and 2018, which were both marked by large and destructive wildfires and widespread drought.

The Upper Rio Grande basin was at just 9% of median levels Thursday compared to the past 30 years – with just 0.6 inches of snow-water equivalent (SWE) remaining, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

co_swepctnormal_update.png
Snowpack across Colorado’s eight river basins as of May 12, 2022.

Photo by: USDA/NRCS

CONTINUE READING AT DENVER 7 NEWS

Hydropower’s future ~ The Conversation

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The water in Lake Powell, one of the nation’s largest reservoirs, has fallen so low amid the Western drought that federal officials are resorting to emergency measures to avoid shutting down hydroelectric power at the Glen Canyon Dam.

The Arizona dam, which provides electricity to seven states, isn’t the only U.S. hydropower plant in trouble.

The iconic Hoover Dam, also on the Colorado River, has reduced its water flow and power production. California shut down a hydropower plant at the Oroville Dam for five months because of low water levels in 2021, and officials have warned the same thing could happen in 2022.

In the Northeast, a different kind of climate change problem has affected hydropower dams – too much rainfall all at once.

The United States has over 2,100 operational hydroelectric dams, with locations in nearly every state. They play essential roles in their regional power grids. But most were built in the past century under a different climate than they face today.

As global temperatures rise and the climate continues to change, competition for water will increase, and the way hydropower supply is managed within regions and across the power grid in the U.S. will have to evolve. We study the nation’s hydropower production at a systems level as engineers. Here are three key things to understand about one of the nation’s oldest sources of renewable energy in a changing climate. 

CONTINUE READING AT THE CONVERSATION

Street scenes ~ Lisa in NYC

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find the window washers

tom otterness

about the sculptures:

Another famous piece Life Underground (2004), inside the 14th Street-Eighth Avenue Station in New York, depicts small bronze figures engaged in various tasks. His cartoonish bronze figures have political undertones, often alluding to issues of money, sex, and class. “It’s a simple language; it’s a cartoon language; it’s smiley, button faces,” the artist said. “People aren’t thrown off by a language they don’t understand.”

more street inspiration

Basquait

little island

Crédito total, Lisa Issenberg