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In my opinion, there are many reasons the Colorado River is not servicing the current demands for it's water.

Probably the main ones are growth of farms, cities and population along the river's path. These and more reasons demand more water than is available.

Back when the dams were built, my guess is plenty of water for that time.

Now, the demand is far greater than ever thought.

Droughts come and go. Recent growth tho is growing faster than river flow allows.

We are currently in a drought situation. Current water demand plus the cyclical drought puts the population in a bad place.

My guess is changing the weather patterns is going to be difficult. Changing demand is also going to be difficult buy may well be the only solution at this time that works.
 

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" This proposal, called Fill Mead First, could be a first step toward dismantling Glen Canyon Dam and restoring the canyon behind it. (Schmidt’s team concluded the approach wouldn’t save much water and would likely greatly perturb the downstream ecosystem.)"

What am I missing here? The problems with sandbars and ecosystems are related to the dam and the reason for the high flow experiments. But removing the dam would " greatly perturb the downstream ecosystem". 1+1 does not equal 2?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
In this case, apparently not? A person would just think losing the surface evaporation from Powell reservoir would save a lot of water, the evapotranspiration rate must be enormous, but then again I'm just a layman
 

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There wasn't enough water to meet the original water allocations from the Colorado River. This is a f### up that's been known for a long time. Since then the West has grown exponentially. Plus people are short-sighted and greedy. When I lived in Phoenix there were plenty of new neighborhoods with minimum requirements for grass and trees. There are countless acres of pointless grass surrounding corporate buildings. It's a no-brainer. Big trouble lies ahead.

I would not be surprised in my lifetime to see some sort of mass exodus from the Las Vegas or Phoenix area. And it won't be pretty. Home values will crash, people will literally slash & burn on their way out of town, and then scatter to other parts of the West. Say it with me: climate change refugees. This will strain other states and communities in unexpected and difficult ways.

The future is desert.
 

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In this case, apparently not? A person would just think losing the surface evaporation from Powell reservoir would save a lot of water, the evapotranspiration rate must be enormous, but then again I'm just a layman
Yeah, there are a lot of studies on this. Lake Powell loses 800,000+ acre feet of water annually due to seepage and evaporation. Putting all the water in Lake Mead would make a lot more sense from that standpoint. Less surface area, greater depth. Plus Glen Canyon would slowly return to a semblance of its former glory.

LA is another interesting example. There's only enough water locally available to support a population of appx. 50,000 people. The rest is piped in from hundreds of miles away.
 

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Any articles you guys can link about the history of the dams and why and what not. I have an American education from the 70's so of course it's all a "marvel " or "incredible achievement ". Never really knew the truth??? Tell us more about the movement and its ideology to take down the dams for more water??? Just never lived anywhere near there so don't know what you guys see.
 

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Any articles you guys can link about the history of the dams and why and what not. I have an American education from the 70's so of course it's all a "marvel " or "incredible achievement ". Never really knew the truth??? Tell us more about the movement and its ideology to take down the dams for more water??? Just never lived anywhere near there so don't know what you guys see.
A couple reads on the topic that may be of interest.

FAQ – Glen Canyon Institute (obvi biased toward restoring Glen Canyon)

As far as books go, I really enjoyed this read:
 

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below is a good read concerning not only USA rivers but many world wide
A very interesting read and scary as can be to me when the rivers run dry
and
many rivers already run dry IE The Colorado ends in sand bars and weeds almost but not entirely dry

 

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Hoo boy. I am an environmental science teacher as a day job, and last year I had an oh, we are hosed moment, when I stopped to consider all the silt that is flowing into the dams. I think there is a terrifying amount of silt at the bottom of both lakes, and that silt is being counted as part of the percent full of the lakes. If they are just measuring height above sea level, the situation is far worse, and that scares the bejeebers out of me. There is a cool project documenting rapids springing back from the silted in areas,


but that also is showing how much silt is in the system. It is going to be a really heartbreaking summer, followed by another heartbreaking summer, and that is going to be a bummer.
 

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Engineers are well aware of how much silt is behind the dams and the size of the alluvial fan. My friend is a hydro engineer. It’s dialed. Removing Powell is a major undertaking ($1T?) and will not happen anytime soon. It just got its operating license extended. Little over 200 feet to dead pool last time I looked. Removing Powell would only create more dams upstream or expanding existing ones. A lot of problems with the current system and doesn’t seem like any real change will happen without a crisis. We’re there, so we will see what happens.
 

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The idea of fill Lake Mead first is born from people who get water or more likely make money from water being in Lake Mead.

Letting water go down to a lower reservoir would increase evaporation enormously due to the higher heat at lower elevations. Silt allowed to flow down to lower reservoirs would decrease their depth and increase the surface area for the same amount of water. Increasing evaporation even more.

Arizona has already responded to the < 1070' breach, and subsequent mandatory restrictions. They will not cut water to cities or slated growth in them. Instead they will cut back farmers and ranchers.

This means that the nation will feel the effects through higher food prices rather than themselves feeling the effects through having to curtail growth to keep their house of cards propped up. Intuitively this seems like making the problem worse, not better. It's 116 Deg. in Phoenix today and there's not only water problems, but electricity supply problems there too. In the words of Sam Kinnison ' You live in a fu'ing desert. There's no water or food there. There's never going to be water or food there. We can all chip in and move you away from there. We'll bring our trailers. '

Water wars, like any war, can only be won if they are avoided. It is a political matter, not an environmental one. The environment does not care.
 

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Engineers are well aware of how much silt is behind the dams and the size of the alluvial fan. My friend is a hydro engineer. It’s dialed. Removing Powell is a major undertaking ($1T?) and will not happen anytime soon. It just got its operating license extended. Little over 200 feet to dead pool last time I looked. Removing Powell would only create more dams upstream or expanding existing ones. A lot of problems with the current system and doesn’t seem like any real change will happen without a crisis. We’re there, so we will see what happens.
I agree that there are no easy solutions, I just get a knot in my stomach each time I see someone pointing at the bathtub ring and saying how bad it is, I want to scream but it is worse. I am glad to know that folks are thinking about the silt, and not ignoring it, so that is a a bit of a good thing.
 

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Go back and read Stegner's bio of Powell, "Beyond the Hundredth Meridian." Century and change later and folks still don't recognize the fundamental difference between East and West - plenty of rainfall in the former to grow crops and sustain a family on 160 acres, impossible in the West w/one-third to one-quarter the rainfall...

As for lawns and cities and conservation, biggest water use in Arizona is to grow cotton and alfalfa, both exported(these days, mostly to China). Utah not much different. Nevada is the driest state in the Union (while we still have one...) but ag and mining still significant water users, altho' not on the scale of Arizona and Utah. Both of which pale when it comes to California...

Consumption and users are one thing, drought another. The Compact was negotiated with bad data, supply over-estimated by about 20% based on recorded inflows for previous 4 decades, which were unusually wet... So too much water was allocated, and now too many users are competing for a piece of a smaller pie.

Jack Schmidt is a treasure. Believe he's still at USU, where he "retired" after long career as water guru for among others, BuRec. Find and read his interview in back issue of BQR (Boatman's Quarterly Review, from Grand Canyon River Guides - it wasn't too long ago, maybe 2019? - issues available online). Ran into a student of his a few years back who asked me how my last Grand trip went. I said "Lotsa' rules. Not much water..."
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
You live in a fu'ing desert. There's no water or food there. There's never going to be water or food there. We can all chip in and move you away from there. We'll bring our trailers. '
That's the mindset that the desert dwellers should have had 50 years or more ago. What really chaps my butt is the plethora of golfin pastures and Kentucky bluegrass lawns they plant around their swimming pools. Then they strip the farmers and ranchers to maintain the golfin pastures.. Hardly an equitable scenario in my minds eye

More bad news this morning

Here's another excellent article on Powell

The pressures on the river raise the possibility that Lake Powell or Lake Mead — or both — could cease functioning as designed. Water levels could become too low to produce power, to go boating, to store water, and, in Powell’s case, to meet downstream delivery demands.
“It is fair to say that the politics of water in the Southwest are more concerned about the future of Lake Mead than Powell. You can connect the dots to say the future of Lake Powell is questionable,” says Doug Kenney, a Western water law scholar at the University of Colorado.

This brings a bittersweet thought to my mind. Should Glen Canyon Dam cease to function, that would impact river running thru GC immensely were the river dependent on native flows. Sure, if the dam were dismantled the beaches and such would eventually return, and the ecosystem would repair itself over time, but as was pointed out, it's unlikely they would spend the money to do that, and instead just pass what water it could pass, leaving the sediment that's crucial to the ecosystem behind the dam. More importantly, to me anyway being a selfish river rat, is the thought of all the shoulder season launches being scrapped due to 1500 cfs flows, the lowest I ran GC was in 2000 when they had the steady 7000 cfs flows, that made some things a royal bitch, and at that time we didn't have Dwaine Whitis's river maps, we only had Stephens guides, with some of the riffles being larger than the named rapids it was pretty hard to figure out where you were. Still had a good time, but I'd sure miss the 18K CFS days.. Couldn't imagine the competition for permits..

Reports from a trip this year when it went down to 4000 cfs weren't encouraging. I did order Dead Pool by Powell, thanks Spudcat.

At the end of the day, it's hard to speculate what BuRec will do, but at the end of the day, it's going to impact us, both as river runners and human inhabitants of the planet.
 

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Dead Pool isn't going to make you optimistic...

When it comes to water, California is the elephant in the room. That was true during the negotiation of the Compact back in the late teens/1920's, more true in the recent negotiations about what to do with current drought, and will be even more consequential in re-negotiation of the Compact (ongoing). Just a fact...
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Dead Pool isn't going to make you optimistic...

When it comes to water, California is the elephant in the room. That was true during the negotiation of the Compact back in the late teens/1920's, more true in the recent negotiations about what to do with current drought, and will be even more consequential in re-negotiation of the Compact (ongoing). Just a fact...
True that, but AZ in MY minds eye is simply wasteful with the ways they use water, CA on the other hand is more geared to human consumption and farming then golfin pastures and such. CA is way more densely inhabited. Either way, there are going to be some dry folks in those states in the coming years.
 

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This is one of the most fascinating and also important threads that I have ever read in quite some time now, because it is bringing to light a very serious problem regarding water, and lets face it: without water life ceases as we know it.

I'm out in Connecticut, and I look at the NOAA U.S. weather maps with all the warnings, etc... and all I see is how the west is literally drying out and burning up, while out here - it's raining almost every day - which is unusual for us, to the point where between the rain and the heat/humidity - everything is getting super moldy outside.

Nobody can tell me that our climate is not changing, because it is - and not just here in the states, but worldwide.

I had a friend named Glen Dickinson, out of Tucson, Arizona [he is deceased now, which is a whole 'nother story!!] and he was telling me 10 years ago how rafting is pretty much non-existent because of the lack of any real waterflows, and I want to say he mentioned that - already back then - it's been like that for quite some time.

He was crazy, but at the same time he lived for the mountains and the water, being outdoors was in his blood.

I seem to think that Lee [at The Boat People] also during one of our many long telephone calls was already telling me years back how in California, it will be dry for an extended amount of time, then it's like all the rain for the month comes down in one storm. Maybe that was not his exact words, but he was also talking about how dry its become.

Lee had a bunch of old rafting VHS tapes, I seem to think I bought out almost his entire inventory - and one of those old VHS tapes was discussing exactly what is being discussed on this thread, I'm going to have to go look for it now and then view it [good thing I got a lot of down time due to a hamstring injury from mountain biking !!]

Sorry for going a bit off topic - but what is being discussed here in this thread to me is very alarming, and of great concern.

Big George + Loki the Dog
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Glad you're enjoying it. Also glad that it's not been hijacked to serve someone's political wishes.

IIRC, it was about 10 years ago when the Salt and the Gila started being sketchy to run due to decreasing flows. The Dolores has been almost non runnable in that time, but that's due to the Indians not letting any water out of McPhee reserviour, but I bet it's gonna get worse. They do releases when the dam is threatened though, which can make for some fun runs.

Here in CO it's been a weird year, we didn't get much for snow-pack, the entire state was close to average, but not in the drainage's that serve the rivers, cause it was so dry last year, the folks in the know say we lost at least 50% of available runoff to infiltration. It has been raining almost every afternoon, not a lot of precip, but enough to keep the grasses green and lessen the chance of wildfire.
 
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