Site: John Fleck

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John Fleck: declining Lower Colorado River Basin water use

Amid the Colorado River water management attention last week rightly focused on the fact that a wet winter in the Upper Basin means a big release this year from Lake Powell to help refill Lake Mead, I missed another bit of business that may be even more important. The Bureau of Reclamation’s planning model is ...

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2017-04-24 21:58   Click to comment

John Fleck: words of western water

Lovely Felicity Barringer piece on our language of water. My favorite bit: In a bone-dry landscape like the Navajo reservation at the corner of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico, water names proliferated. Places like Tohatchi and Toadlena, New Mexico or Tonolea, and Tolani Lakes, Arizona, begin with tó, the Navajo word for water.

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2017-04-24 14:32   Click to comment

John Fleck: The Ghost of a River, Part II

Riding my bike late this morning, I stopped to admire a roadrunner in the trail. As you can see from the picture, it’s a ratty bit of trail (Gritty? We have more words for the sublime than the mundane.) flanked by the freeway to the north and a treeline to the south bordering old farm ...

The post The Ghost of a River, Part II appeared first on jfleck at inkstain.

2017-04-23 23:27   Click to comment

John Fleck: because science

My friend and collaborator Becky Bixby, a University of New Mexico biologist and the associate director of our Water Resources Program (she is our program’s science brain), on why she wasn’t at the March For Science yesterday: UNM’s Becky Bixby won’t be at the march. But that’s only because since the beginning of the semester, ...

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2017-04-23 15:23   Click to comment

John Fleck: The Ghost of a River

I’m moving out of my policy wonk comfort zone this morning, talking about The River in some new ways, about some new work I’ve been doing. It will be livestreamed, 9 a.m. MT:

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2017-04-21 14:12   Click to comment

John Fleck: Bonus water for Lake Mead, with the chance for more next year

Dan Elliott has details on yesterday’s USBR announcement of a 9 million acre foot release from Lake Mead: The Bureau of Reclamation, which manages dams and reservoirs on the Colorado River, said it will release 9 million acre-feet from Lake Powell, sending it down the Colorado into Lake Mead, where it will be tapped by ...

The post Bonus water for Lake Mead, with the chance for more next year

2017-04-18 16:12   Click to comment

John Fleck: Oroville’s impact on Lake Mead

Friday’s announcement of an 85 percent California State Water Project allocation was, tentatively at least, good news for Lake Mead. When the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California gets a small supply from up north via the State Water Project, it needs more Colorado River water. Conversely, with a big State Water Project supply coming ...

The post Oroville’s impact on Lake Mead

2017-04-16 22:39   Click to comment

John Fleck: Water is For Fighting Over won an Independent Publisher Book Award Medal

Happy to report that my book, Water is for Fighting Over and Other Myths About Water in the West, has received a Gold Medal in the “IPPYs”.

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2017-04-15 22:16   Click to comment

John Fleck: the paradoxes of irrigation efficiency

The University of New Mexico water posse had a great visit yesterday with Christopher Scott, the new director of the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy at the University of Arizona. Scott spoke a couple of times and met with students at our Community and Regional Planning program, who have been doing a lot ...

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2017-04-15 14:50   Click to comment

John Fleck: “reconciliation ecology” in the rice fields of California

Reconciliation ecology, the field’s founders say, “says we still have time to save most of the world’s species. But to do it, we must stop trying to put an end to civilization and human enterprise. Instead, we need to work on the overwhelming bulk of the land — the places we humans use. We need ...

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2017-04-14 13:40   Click to comment

John Fleck: Lower Colorado – America’s “most endangered river”

The environmental group American Rivers today declared the Lower Colorado River America’s “most endangered river“. The web page announcing this is fascinating. The pictures are not of iconic desert canyons and pristine rivers. They are of farmers. Growing food. A reminder of the multiplicity of values with which we embrace the importance of rivers.

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2017-04-11 14:34   Click to comment

John Fleck: Glen Canyon Dam and the $10 bill on the sidewalk

tl;dr The claims of “Fill Mead First” advocates that we could save hundreds of thousands of acre feet of water a year while draining Lake Powell and consolidating all the Colorado River’s water in Lake Mead don’t hold up. The longer version…. There’s this joke. Two economists are walking down the street when one spots ...

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2017-04-11 03:15   Click to comment

John Fleck: “I just found this route a couple weeks ago….”

One of the great joys of bicycling socially is route sharing. Albuquerque is a great bicycling city. We’ve got a nice network of trails that are completely separated from streets, including one along the Rio Grande that runs the whole length of the metro area. We’re seeing more and more facilities on the streets as ...

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2017-04-09 21:19   Click to comment

John Fleck: California’s remarkable resilience in the face of drought

We’ll be analyzing lessons from California’s drought for a while yet. But what I view as the most important lesson is already clear. The L.A. Times’ Bettina Boxall, one of the state’s most experienced and respected water reporters, summed it up thus: [O]n the whole, this intricately plumbed state proved to be surprisingly resilient in ...

The post California’s remarkable resilience in the face…

2017-04-09 03:38   Click to comment

John Fleck: slots still available for UNM Water Resources Program fall 2017

We still have some slots available for fall 2017 in the University of New Mexico Water Resources Program. When I left my career in journalism, it was for the chance to join a community of people at the University of New Mexico who are passionate about water. We’re looking for students who think that way ...

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2017-04-05 22:36   Click to comment

John Fleck: Does Las Vegas have the most reliable water supply in the Colorado River Basin?

David Owen makes an interesting point in this New Yorker piece: Just as proximity makes people think that Las Vegas is the principal cause of the decline of Lake Mead, it also makes them think that any further decline in the lake will be a problem mainly, or even only, for Las Vegas. But that ...

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2017-04-05 14:28   Click to comment

John Fleck: Opening the spigot on the Rio Grande

My friend Lauren Villagran had a lovely piece in this morning’s Albuquerque Journal about what happens when you turn on a river: Unlike in Albuquerque, where the river is always wet, the wide, sandy bed of the Rio Grande is almost always dry in southern New Mexico below the Hatch Valley until irrigation season begins. ...

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2017-04-04 16:27   Click to comment

John Fleck: In California, another aquifer turns the corner

Ian James on new work by USGS researcher Michelle Sneed on the aquifer beneath the Coachella Valley, west of California’s Salton Sea: Since 2010, she said, groundwater levels have either stabilized or risen in many parts of the valley, in large part due to replenishment of the aquifer at percolation ponds. “Every well I’ve looked ...

The post In California, another aquifer turns the corner

2017-04-03 14:15   Click to comment

John Fleck: as war turned to peace

Martin Reber, a distant relative, tracked me down to share this picture of my father, for which I will be forever grateful. We don’t know much about it, other than the scrawled message on the back suggesting it was taken within a few weeks of VE Day as my father’s unit moved into Germany. Dad ...

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2017-03-26 22:09   Click to comment

John Fleck: the federal role in water infrastructure

There are several federal programs with a demonstrated success in making infrastructure-related investments that support sustainable water use, healthy rivers and facilitate much-needed public-private partnerships. These include WaterSMART at the Department of the Interior; the Rural Utilities Service program at the Department of Agriculture; and the Clean Water and Drinking Water State…

2017-03-25 19:06   Click to comment

John Fleck: Why should I conserve just so those other guys can have the water?

This story is a bit of a garble, but it illustrates one of the central challenges in making water conservation deals in the Colorado River Basin. Here’s how I explained it in my book: Within the network of state and water-agency representatives working on Colorado River Basin problems, there is a clear recognition that eventually ...

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2017-03-25 03:00   Click to comment

John Fleck: World Water Day on the shores of old Lake Bonneville

Flying into Salt Lake City this afternoon, I noticed the old shoreline benches of Lake Bonneville, the great Pleistocene inland sea that once filled a big chunk of what we now call the Great Basin. The benches are these big flat topographic features a few hundred feet above the valley floor. One one, south of ...

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2017-03-23 03:32   Click to comment

John Fleck: six crossings of the Rio Grande

The Rio Grande through Albuquerque has been rising this week, thanks to a combination of a great snowpack and a quirk in the river’s operating rules. The snowpack part is obvious – it’s big and melting fast – the rule quirk less so. Under Article VII of the Rio Grande Compact, we cannot store water ...

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2017-03-19 19:22   Click to comment

John Fleck: Going Down to the Water

My students have all heard me tell this story, many more than once (sorry!), but it was fun to work it through in writing: Some years ago, through the serendipity of a missed airport connection, I found myself stranded for 24 hours in Prague. I was tired, my mind set in the way of air ...

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2017-03-18 18:27   Click to comment

John Fleck: don’t let the dry March overshadow the good news for Lake Mead

Chris Harris, the new executive director of the Colorado River Board of California (just named to the job Wednesday, congratulations, Chris!) made a point in the comments of this post that’s worth highlighting. While the dry March in the Upper Colorado River Basin has eating into the runoff forecast, likely eliminating the chance of a ...

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2017-03-18 02:54   Click to comment

John Fleck: a big boost this year to Lake Mead?

The Bureau of Reclamation’s monthly forecast, out this morning (pdf), contains some very good news for Lake Mead and its water users in California, Nevada, and Arizona. But there is a huge caveat. the good news As it stood in early March, the snowpack in the Rockies was enough to send a big slug of ...

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2017-03-15 18:07   Click to comment

John Fleck: Sally Jewell’s post-cabinet road trip is the best thing on the Internet

I always figured Sally Jewell, who until January was the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, had the best job. If you followed her on social media, you’d see her visiting cool places, hiking around, looking at stuff. I realize being Secretary of the Interior has some hard bits, too, involving meetings and policy and big ...

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2017-03-13 22:00   Click to comment

John Fleck: US-Mexico water sharing deal is sparing Colorado River users from shortage

In my book, I focused a great deal on the environmental and cultural benefits of the “pulse flow” through the Colorado River Delta, enabled by a 2012 agreement between the United States and Mexico. It was a shiny bauble, but there’s a lot more to the agreement than that. Most important from the perspective of ...

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2017-03-13 14:12   Click to comment

John Fleck: the ditches are running

I took a detour from the bike trail this morning to see water in the Albuquerque Main Canal, which brings irrigation water to Albuquerque’s strangely urbanized rural valley. There are 350 miles of canals threaded through the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District’s Albuquerque Division, bringing water to something like 10,000 acres of land. It was ...

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2017-03-12 22:58   Click to comment

John Fleck: Linking Forests to Faucets

New work by UNM colleagues (Dadhi Adhikari and others) suggests municipal water users are willing to pay for work to improve the health of the watersheds that supply the city’s water – in this case Albuquerque: Econometric results show evidence of … significant public support for forest restoration – linking forests to faucets. (Dadhi is ...

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2017-03-06 17:48   Click to comment


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