Site: John Fleck

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John Fleck: “we don’t have water”

I had a nice talk Friday with Norman and Paul Kehmeier, father and son farmers in Delta County, Colorado, who get their water from Surface Creek, a tributary to the Gunnison. I called after getting a note earlier in the week from Norman, who I’d met last year on a trip to Grand Junction: Thought ...

The post “we don’t have water” appeared first on jfleck at inkstain.

2018-04-23 02:52   Click to comment

John Fleck: Santa Fe, NM: Not like Cape Town

Julie Ann Grimm has a piece this week in the Santa Fe Reporter explaining Santa Fe’s approach to water management this year that’s a nice demonstration of why we don’t have incipient “Cape Town” situations (cities about to run out of water) in New Mexico: Groundwater wells that have mostly been resting on the city’s ...

The post Santa Fe, NM: Not like Cape Town appeared first on jfleck at…

2018-04-20 12:21   Click to comment

John Fleck: Meanwhile, Texas is newly mad at New Mexico over water stuff

Not to be outdone by our neighbors in the Colorado River Basin to the west, here’s a letter from Texas Rio Grande Compact Commissioner Pat Gordon to New Mexico State Engineer Tom Blaine complaining that proposed water rights for a New Mexico copper mine would further cut into Texas’s share of the Rio Grande, a ...

The post Meanwhile, Texas is newly mad at New Mexico over water stuff appeared…

2018-04-18 19:51   Click to comment

John Fleck: The “anticommons” revisited: that time Phoenix tried to leave more water in Lake Mead

Ry Rivard, a reporter for Voice of San Diego who is part of the Colorado River journalism posse, had the most tweetable summary of the dustup within Arizona and among the seven Colorado River basin states:   Arizona has two internal factions. One of them wanted to work with other states to save water. The ...

The post The “anticommons” revisited: that time Phoenix tried to leave more water in…

2018-04-18 13:26   Click to comment

John Fleck: Denver Water accuses Central Arizona Project of manipulating water orders to take more water from Lake Mead

Denver Water today joined state leaders in the Upper Colorado River Basin with a letter accusing the managers of the Central Arizona Project of manipulating water orders to get more water out of the Upper Basin’s reservoir at Lake Powell. The actions of the CAP’s managers “several compromise the trust and cooperation” needed to solve ...

The post Denver Water accuses Central Arizona Project of…

2018-04-16 23:05   Click to comment

John Fleck: On the U.S. part of the Rio Grande, the San Luis Valley is where most farming takes place

In water management, it’s normal to zero in on one’s local geography and not think about the larger system – especially when state lines carve up a watershed. Thus, faced with a terrible snowpack year on the Rio Grande, we’re having three largely separate conversations about agricultural water management on the U.S. part of the ...

The post On the U.S. part of the Rio Grande, the San Luis…

2018-04-16 13:35   Click to comment

John Fleck: Colorado River Upper Basin states accuse Central Arizona Project managers of threatening the health of the Colorado River system

Upper Colorado River Basin state leaders, in a letter Friday (April 13, 2018), said the water management approach being taken by the managers of the Central Arizona Project “threaten the water supply for nearly 40 million people in the United States and Mexico, and threaten the interstate relationships and good will that must be maintained ...

The post Colorado River Upper Basin states accuse…

2018-04-15 21:08   Click to comment

John Fleck: One of the worst years in a century of records on New Mexico’s Rio Grande?

Experimenting with some data visualizations to try to help make sense of where this very dry year on the West’s rivers fits into historical context, I came up this morning with this: The spaghetti is daily flow for each year in the USGS historic record for the gauge at Embudo in northern New Mexico – ...

The post One of the worst years in a century of records on New Mexico’s Rio Grande?

2018-04-10 04:27   Click to comment

John Fleck: Is the Central Arizona Project gaming reservoir levels to take more water from the Upper Basin?

This Central Arizona Project infographic has been a bit of a “WTF” moment in the Colorado River Basin management community: Kudos to whoever designed this. I’ve struggled to find ways to explain this. First posted to the Internet, then apparently taken down, it’s a solid explanation of the tricky way the Central Arizona Project has ...

The post Is the Central Arizona Project gaming reservoir…

2018-04-09 20:44   Click to comment

John Fleck: New Mexico Water: What Our Next Leaders Need to Know

My University of New Mexico water colleagues and I are hosting a conference May 17: New Mexico Water: What Our Next Leaders Need to Know Following the 2018 gubernatorial election, New Mexico will have new leaders of its resource management agencies. This conference will consider NM water & environmental challenges with presentations by former senior ...

The post New Mexico Water: What Our Next…

2018-04-09 19:34   Click to comment

John Fleck: Why, in 1928, the Bureau of Reclamation treated Mexico as part of the Colorado River Basin

A guest post by historian Sara A. Porterfield, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Colorado at Boulder As I was working on a draft of my dissertation’s introduction a couple months ago, I decided that I HAD to know what percentage of the Colorado River Basin lies in Mexico. This factoid would have taken up half of ...

The post Why, in 1928, the Bureau of Reclamation treated Mexico as part of the…

2018-04-07 23:27   Click to comment

John Fleck: The Cape Town lesson: avoiding apocalypse

The headline on this terrific Robyn Dixon piece in the LA Times about how Cape Town staved of a water supply catastrophe has created an unfortunate framing: How Cape Town found water savings California never dreamed of One frequent interpretation as it rocketed around water-interested social media was, “We’re pathetic, look how much better Cape ...

The post The Cape Town lesson: avoiding…

2018-04-04 13:57   Click to comment

John Fleck: The Colorado River-Sacramento Delta Connection

With an 85 percent allocation of northern California water from California’s State Water Project last year, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California was able to cut back on its use of Colorado River water, leaving more than 300,000 acre feet in Lake Mead. That water has provided a sufficient buffer than Mead will end ...

The post The Colorado River-Sacramento Delta Connection

2018-03-28 14:53   Click to comment

John Fleck: That time Albuquerque had a fully protected bike lane

Sometimes I write stuff over at Better Burque.

The post That time Albuquerque had a fully protected bike lane appeared first on jfleck at inkstain.

2018-03-26 16:01   Click to comment

John Fleck: New constraints on Imperial’s ability to throttle back Colorado River water use

I’ve been puzzling over the impact of Imperial Irrigation District’s legal struggle over its “Equitable Distribution Plan”, a regulatory framework for governing how much water individual farmers can use. This story from Daniel Rothberg is a big help: As a practical matter, the repeal of the Equitable Distribution Plan lessened IID’s control over its plans to ...

The post New constraints on…

2018-03-26 13:52   Click to comment

John Fleck: “breakdown” in Kirtland fuel spill cleanup

Albuquerque’s municipal water utility, in a strikingly worded memo yesterday, said the latest plans for managing a huge groundwater spill on and adjacent to Kirtland Air Force Base represent “a breakdown” in what was once a partnership among the water utility, the Air Force, and the New Mexico Environment Department. The new plans back away ...

The post “breakdown” in Kirtland fuel spill…

2018-03-21 15:36   Click to comment

John Fleck: Palo Verde Irrigation District withdraws lawsuit against Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

In a bit of Colorado River detente, the Palo Verde Irrigation District has filed a motion in Riverside County Superior Court to withdraw a lawsuit it had filed against the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California over the use of water on Met-owned land in the Palo Verde District:   View note The move does ...

The post Palo Verde Irrigation District withdraws lawsuit against…

2018-03-19 21:12   Click to comment

John Fleck: “For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water.”

On a bike ride this morning, I turned onto a little dirt trail through the woods, heading out toward the Rio Grande. Twenty yards from the river, I found a book lying in the trail, battered by the weather: It was a Bible, lying open to Exodus 15:22: “Then Moses led Israel from the Red ...

The post “For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water.” appeared first on jfleck at…

2018-03-19 02:31   Click to comment

John Fleck: Water policy implications of elk, raiding wheat fields, in Polvadera, New Mexico

I had one of those “I wish I was still a reporter” moments when Glen Duggins, at yesterday’s meeting of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District board meeting, raised the issue of elk in Polvadera. Polvadera is an unincorporated community along the Rio Grande, between the also unincorporated communities of San Acacia and Lemitar, strung ...

The post Water policy implications of elk, raiding…

2018-03-13 15:58   Click to comment

John Fleck: We should probably stop calling it “drought”

Colorado River Basin Managers are working on what they call a “Drought Contingency Plan” to reduce water use, but that’s probably a bad name to describe what’s going on, as the members of the Colorado River Research Group explain in a new white paper (pdf): In current Colorado River water management, perhaps no word is used ...

The post We should probably stop calling it “drought” appeared…

2018-03-08 13:51   Click to comment

John Fleck: Putting the water back

Laura Paskus on an encounter with Jennifer Pitt in the Colorado River Delta: Walking through the cottonwood forest, Pitt says this landscape was destroyed before anyone figured out what to do about it. When the Colorado River started running dry in the mid-20th century, there weren’t yet environmental laws to temper or stop destructive operations ...

The post Putting the water back appeared…

2018-03-03 22:43   Click to comment

John Fleck: Florence Hawley Ellis

This afternoon I tweeted a picture of this treasure, found in the stacks of the University of New Mexico’s Centennial Science and Engineering Library: Tom Swetnam, a friend who is the former director of the UofA Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, recognized the name in the top-right corner: “Looks like that may be Florence Hawley Ellis’ ...

The post Florence Hawley Ellis appeared first on

2018-03-01 03:02   Click to comment

John Fleck: Do kids in greener neighborhoods grow up with bigger brains?

This is so far out of my area of expertise that I have no way of evaluating methodology or results, except to point out that it’s worth thinking about the water policy implications: The Association between Lifelong Greenspace Exposure and 3-Dimensional Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging in Barcelona Schoolchildren Lifelong exposure to greenness was positively associated ...

The post Do kids in…

2018-02-28 14:02   Click to comment

John Fleck: The Navajo Nation and New Mexico’s Colorado River allocation

Very little of the Colorado River’s water originates in New Mexico. The San Juan, one of the Colorado’s main tributaries, starts in the mountains of Colorado, cutting through a corner of the state’s northwest desert, before snaking into the canyon country of Arizona and Utah. Yet when the Upper Colorado River Basin Compact was signed ...

The post The Navajo Nation and New Mexico’s Colorado…

2018-02-27 22:23   Click to comment

John Fleck: Is democracy to blame for our infrastructure problems?

In general, if you ask people if they would prefer to pay less, or more, for a given product, the answer is likely to be “less”. Democracy is, at root, the process of asking such a question. This, Manny Teodoro argues, is at the heart of the U.S. infrastructure problem: The trouble is that, in ...

The post Is democracy to blame for our infrastructure problems? appeared first on jfleck at…

2018-02-27 13:12   Click to comment

John Fleck: Some thoughts on “the West’s Disappearing Water”

We lost the daily direct flights between Albuquerque and Tucson a decade ago when the economy tanked, which left me in a shuttle yesterday morning at sunup driving north on I-10 from Tucson to Phoenix to catch a flight home after a couple of very intense, very productive days discussing water.* It’s a beautiful stretch ...

The post Some thoughts on “the West’s Disappearing Water” appeared…

2018-02-25 19:12   Click to comment

John Fleck: Water, not for fighting over

While historically, water has been depicted as something that has driven a wedge between communities, “I think it should be something that ties our communities together,” Mueller said. “We all need it, we all depend on it, we all want it in one way or the other. If we can work together (on water) we’re ...

The post Water, not for fighting over appeared first on jfleck at inkstain.

2018-02-21 02:42   Click to comment

John Fleck: Hey Tucson, I’ll be yammering at the University of Arizona Thursday

Thursday at 4: With another dry year setting in across the West, the challenges of meeting the water supply needs of a growing population while maintaining our rural communities and a healthy environment are again being thrown in sharp relief. The continuing decline of Lake Mead has become a symbol of deepening problems, but there are also ...

The post Hey Tucson, I’ll be yammering at the…

2018-02-20 17:02   Click to comment

John Fleck: Crossing Interstate 25

I’ve a piece up at Better Burque about our adventures today trying to find a way to cross the interstate on our bicycles. Don’t try this kids, we’re professionals. No, not professionals, dangerous amateurs.

The post Crossing Interstate 25 appeared first on jfleck at inkstain.

2018-02-18 23:51   Click to comment

John Fleck: “drought” – Philp on weather, water, and yesteryear’s language

Tom Philp had a great piece in Water Deeply last week about the language we use: Water policy becoming a prisoner of its own limited vocabulary, particularly when it comes to the weather. Here is a case that “drought” and “normal” belong in the dustbin of history, for their overuse can lead to the wrong conversation. ...

The post “drought” – Philp on weather, water, and yesteryear’s…

2018-02-15 17:24   Click to comment


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