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Part One A: Preparing Comments for Public Participation During the Reconsultation of Interim Guidelines

July 26, 2021
by John S. Weisheit

Kirk Walters of the Toledo Blade, 2004.
Kirk Walters of the Toledo Blade, 2004.

BY DATE: News and Opinion

This page is Part One A (news by date)

  • Click here for Part One A: By date - News and Opinion
  • Click here for Part One B: By subject - News and Opinion
  • Click here for Part Two: Narratives - Old and New.
  • Click here for Part Three: The Physical and Social Sciences
  • Click here for Part Four: Solutions - Climate Adaptation, Sustainibility and Resilence.


NOTE:  This series will be updated through the preparation of the 2026 Annual Operating Plan (AOP).

  • We present recent and relevant news features about the very serious issues that face the Colorado River Basin.
  • We present baseline policy documents, climate science, social science, traditional knowledge, and solutions.
  • The problem is human-caused: 1) over-consumption of surface water and aquifers; 2) water conservation programs are actually water transfer programs and will not reduce consumption and will harden the embedded demand; 3) the reservoir system is over-built and yet it can only manage little droughts and little floods; 4) misquided planning and zoning (not resilient and not sustainable); 5) climate disruption: altered circulation patterns in ocean and atmosphere in response to greenhouse gas loading from burning fossil fuels at rates greater than the planet's ability to absorb carbon emissions into the ecosystems of ocean and land.
  • The solution is: work with nature's geography and climate; restoring balance is the key objective; an international climate accord is imperative; do the legislative things that weren’t properly attended to between 1902 and 1948; prepare citizens to adjust to the sacrifices that will be required, so that the necessary transition will be just and safe and affordable.
  • We recommend that the nonsense and distractions stop immediately and get this house in order.

NEPA Review: What needs to happen? Will it happen?

  • Understand the problem: This is a desert and naturally exists in a state of permanent depletion. This is not a drought; a drought eventually ends. This is aridification; the last time aridification occurred on this planet, it lasted for centuries (Woodhouse, 2010).
  • It must be recognized that the Basin States Alternative of 2006 was unsuccesful; it is not necessary to repeat or modify this very dissapointing experiment.
  • The Upper Basin Depletion Schedule must be eliminated, and the Structural Deficit of the Lower Basin and Mexico must be zeroed (Breggren, 2019). Had this been done 15-years ago, the jeopardy of reservoir elevations dropping to dead pool would not exist.
  • The Upper Basin is not prepared for the shortages that will arrive (Wheeler, 2021). The Upper Colorado River Commission must create a robust and equitable shortage agreement because the proposed demand management strategies do not really exist at the scale that is necessary (UCRC 2020 Report).
  • The theme of the Preferred Alternative must be about Climate Adaptation and in the time-scale of the next 100-years. This means an international climate accord is required to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions (Craig, 2010).
  • The mining of groundwater must stop and depleted aquifers should be recharged. Human activities that deplete aquifers will reduce groundwater seepage into rivers; as will increased surface/soil evaporation due to increasing aridity (USGS, 2021).
  • There should be a public scoping meeting in each state that will facillitate attendence at rural and tribal communities, and resources should be provided to Mexico for conducting public meetings in the Spanish language.
  • Resources should be provided for the communities of the Salton Through (California) to address the problems of this region's terminal lake, the "Salton Sea."
  • The public scoping period should be six months, rather than three months, and justified for reasons of social disruptions caused by the persistence of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • In addition to operations at Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dam, the scope of dam operations must include Flaming Gorge Dam, Blue Mesa Dam and especially Navajo Dam, which has an existing and separate shortage agreement.
  • Operations at McPhee Dam and the Paradox Valley Salinity Control Program on the Dolores River require attention; this river ecosystem is essentially dead (News: Jonathan Thompson & Shannon Najmabadi).
  • The Biological Opinions of the Basin must be revised to address the quickening of climate disruptions, with special considerations given to the Grand Canyon Ecosystem below Glen Canyon Dam, and the harm that equalization flows from Glen Canyon Dam cause. Contrarily, when hydropower production at Glen Canyon Dam stops, and the river bypass tubes are opened, prepare for dramatic water quality changes and invasion of non-native species for the ecosystem of Grand Canyon NP.
  • Prioritize green infrastructure, rather than gray infrastructure.


2021, September 22: FIVE-YEAR PROJECTIONS
Note: The 30-year average for the 2023 Annual Operating Plan (AOP) will be 9.6 million acre-feet (maf) The prior 30-year average was 10.83 maf and before that it was 12.04 maf. The overall total loss is negative 2.44 maf. This number represents the minimum objective for the savings that the water managers must achieve by the completion of the 2026 AOP. After that, the water managers must prepare for addtional losses due to atmospheric heat stresses.
Note: USBR projections, since 2007, have consistenty fallen between the 50th percentile and the 10th percentile. If this pattern remains consistent through the next decade, then all the reservoirs will indeed vacate; the consequence of mega-drought.
Note: On The Colorado (OTC) understands that projections into the 90th percentile (wetter hydrology) are possible, because global climate disruption includes anticipating swings in long-term hydryology; a swing that could include mega-flood events. For example, in Year 2021 there have been devastating floods in China, Germany, Turkey and Canada. Wikipedia.


2008, February 12: WHEN WILL LAKE MEAD GO DRY? 

"Pierce said the conclusions in the Scripps study are based partially on an estimated reduction in runoff of 20 percent over the next 50 years. He said that figure was used because it split the difference between the 10 to 30 percent decrease in runoff the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts will occur over the next 50 years." Associated Press.
Note: Under the operating criteria of 2007 Interim Guidelines, when a shortage tier elevation arrives at Lake Mead, it also means that the capacity at Lake Powell is significantly diminished. The management of the two reservoirs is similar to a transportation vehicle that operates with two fuel tanks.





News by Date



This page is Part One A (news by date)
  • Click here for Part One A: By date - News and Opinion
  • Click here for Part One B: By subject - News and Opinion
  • Click here for Part Two: Narratives - Old and New.
  • Click here for Part Three: The Physical and Social Sciences
  • Click here for Part Four: Solutions - Climate Adaptation, Sustainibility and Resilence.


Discussion:   Talk about this article...


Dam Operations
Public Notices


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