Opinion: Climate, drought and the political Bizarro-land of the House Natural Resources Committee

Right-wingers frame drought as battle between environment and people; Colorado could avoid similar showdown with good planning


Delta smelt, via USFWS.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Apparently, the lack of water in California has hindered the ability of some of the state’s elected officials to think straight.

Completely ignoring the facts that California’s precipitation has been well below average for four years in a row, and that the state’s temperatures have running at or near record highs, some Republican congressmen are calling the Golden State’s current dry spell a “man-made drought.” Continue reading

Study: Cultural shift and centralized planning helped Melbourne adapt to Australia’s Millennium Drought


Australia’s blistering Millennium Drought spurred wholesale changes in water use.

Regional water czar directed coordinated drought response

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Drought-prone cities and regions around the world can look to Melbourne, Australia to get an idea of what it takes to tackle water shortages during extended dry spells — and to prepare for future droughts, which are projected to become more frequent in some regions as global warming intensifies.

As the worst drought in Australia’s history took hold during the late 1990s, the city’s 4.3 million residents were able to cut their daily water use by half, to just 41 gallons per per person, according to a new study. Continue reading

Colorado: Big flows expected in Blue River

Good news for boaters


Healthy streamflows and good boating in the Blue River Basin. @bberwyn photo.


Blue River snowpack still growing.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Late-season storms have helped boost snowpack in the Blue River to near last year’s level, promising healthy runoff and flows in Summit County, according to Denver Water.

The effects of the steady barrage of spring storms is already showing up the Lower Blue River, where flows are increasing due to increased releases from Dillon Reservoir, according to Denver Water, which won’t be diverting water through the Roberts Tunnel until mid-July at the earliest. Continue reading

Nevada Supreme Court rejects Las Vegas water grap


Pipeline dreams stumble at Nevada Supreme Court.

Ruling marks another win for activist network opposing the massive groundwater pumping and pipeline plan

Staff Report

FRISCO — A bid by Las Vegas to drain groundwater from distant valleys took another hit this week, as the Nevada Supreme Court blocked the latest legal maneuver by the Southern Nevada Water Authority and the Nevada State Engineer, who petitioned the court for writs of mandamus.

The ruling is a win for critics of the SNWA pipeline project, including White Pine County, the Great Basin Water Network and local Native American tribes, who say the plan will dry up springs and groundwater needed by local communities, as well as wildlife that relies on scarce sources of water in central and eastern Nevada. Continue reading

Water wrangling in Colorado

Tracking the Colorado water plan update via Twitter …

And who speaks for the critters?

Not much diversity in the CWCB meeting room at this remote semi-rural golf course clubhouse near Sterling. Continue reading

Scientists urge caution on Nicaragua canal plan

New waterway could take a huge environmental toll


Preparations have started for construction of a new canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean across Nicaragua. Map courtesy Pedro Alvarez Grou.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Expediting construction of a planned transoceanic canal in Nicaragua raises a host of environmental and social issues, according to a panel of scientists who recently met at a conference to discuss the potential impacts of the project.

The scientists urged caution and international collaboration, saying that sediment discharges during construction will threaten aquatic species, Nicaragua’s lucrative ecotourism and the supply of fresh water for drinking, irrigation and power generation.

The Nicaragua Interoceanic Grand Canal will cut through Lake Cocibolca , Central America’s main freshwater reservoir and the largest tropical freshwater lake of the Americas. The plan will force the relocation of indigenous populations and impact a fragile ecosystem, including species at risk of extinction, according to Rice University environmental engineer Pedro Alvarez and other members of the consortium. Continue reading

UN says big investments needed to avert water wars

Will the world get it together on climate change?

Will the world get it together on water?

Upfront spending would avoid the huge costs of escalating conflicts

Staff Report

FRISCO — Big investments in water infrastructure are needed around the world to avert future conflicts over the world’s most essential resource. Looming shortages of water could trigger conflicts and mass migrations, contributing to social and political instability, the report warns.

“The consequence of unmet water goals will be widespread insecurity creating more international tension and conflict,” said lead author Bob Sandford. “The positive message is that if we can keep moving now on water-related sustainable development goals we can still have the future we want,” he said. Continue reading


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