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USBR Demand and Supply Study for the Colorado River Basin of 2012

December 12, 2012
by John Weisheit

This study, prepared by the Bureau of Reclamation and the seven states of the Colorado River basin (with technical asistance from a few contractors), was completed because Congress forced the issue through legislation and modest funding mechanisms. It must be appreciated, however, that the public has been asking the Natural Resource Committees and Reclamation to perform a long-term and basin-wide assessment for about a half-century. The reason was to avoid the condition the basin now faces: human consumption has over-extended the natural supply, and water curtailments and empty reservoirs will be the consequence.

This study is unique in that the demand side is assessed for the first time and includes the projected impacts of climate change to year 2060. As important as this far-reaching study is, the National Academy of Sciences, for example, was not asked to provide an independent review of the methodology and conclusions.

The document is tame in its analysis of climate change. For example, it does not provide a worst case scenario and ignores the basin's pre-existing rate of decline (and here). Of interest, however, a worst-case scenario was indeed discussed internally, but never published externally. See: Trace 21 by the Modeling Assumption Sub-group of 2011.

The study offers an assumed hope that humans might actually start to curb their consumptive behavior, that corporations will lower their greenhouse gas emissions, and planning for smart growth will somehow not become an oxymoron.

In the last century, documents were provided to Congress to assess the supply side of the Colorado River, and generous funding for grandiose engineering projects soon followed.

The documents about the hydrology were not entirely correct, and in this post-construction era the water managers now understand that drying times can last for centuries and flood magnitudes can overwhelm spillway capacities.

Generous state and federal funding will not happen in this century for solving the problem of imbalances caused by over-reaching the demand side of the equation, which includes the subsequent damage brought upon the natural water cycle, and caused by the excessive human consumption of fossil energy fuels.

If funding is somehow pulled out of a magician's hat, the administrative record indicates clearly that maximum human consumption will continue and the problem will never be solved.

The age of abundance is over, with or without adjusting to climate change, and water managers must accept the supply the basin has been given and abandon the ideology of chasing the balloons of demand.

BASELINE INFORMATION - Click here to read a 1983 Sunset Magazine article called the "Mighty and Troubled Colorado."

Click here to read this story by Brett Walton in Circle of Blue.

Modeling Contingency Planning

 

CLICK HERE to download the combined documents of the Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study (1,655 pages).  

STUDY WEBSITE
http://www.usbr.gov/lc/region/programs/crbstudy.html

Email: ColoradoRiverBasinStudy@usbr.gov

U.S. mail to:
Bureau of Reclamation
Attention: Ms. Pam Adams, LC-2721
P.O. Box 61470
Boulder City, NV 89006-1470

Facsimile transmission: 702-293-8418

SECURE WATER ACT

WATER SUSTAINIBILITY (From the White House)

ACADEMIC SYNTHESIS

REPONSE FROM ACADEMICS

  • CLICK HERE to read the letter from 23 academics to Sally Jewell.
  • CLICK HERE to read DOI's response letter of Febuary 9, 2016
  • Click here to read the response letter from Nevada's Colorado River Commissioner
  • Click here to read the response from Utah's Commissioner

PREVIOUS STUDIES

2010 - INTERIM REPORT No. 1

2010 - Public Comments

Public Options

REVISIONS OF TECHNICAL REPORTS
Technical Part B

Technical Part C

Tecnical Report D

2012 - FINAL SUPPLY AND DEMAND STUDY

LIST OF TIMELY COMMENTS

INDEPENDENT REVIEWS

EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH

Webinars

Webinar of April 3, 2013

  • Click here to watch the April 3, webinar
  • Click here to view the pdf of the April 3, webinar
  • Click here to view screen shots of the April 3 webinar

Public Relations

2013 - THE NEXT STEPS

The 50-year remedies are arbitrarily under the purview of the Bureau of Reclamation, the seven states, the tribes, and selected environmental groups. Their preliminary reports are overdue.

  • Click here to read the fact sheet called "Moving Forward."
  • Click here to see who is participating on the three official Workgroups
  • Click here to review the official website of the Basin Study

CONTINGENCY PLANNING

FEDERAL CLIMATE CHANGE ASSESSMENT FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

2013 - Report: National Climate Assessment Development Advisory Committee (big file)

Links to ON THE COLORADO articles on this subject


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