Paper: The emerging tribal role in the ColoradoRiver Basin — The Colorado River Research Group #COriver #aridification

Many Indian reservations are located in or near contentious river basins where demand for water outstrips supply. Map courtesy of the Bureau of Reclamation.

Click here to read the paper. Here’s an excerpt:

In an earlier Colorado River Research Group publication (Tribes and Water in the Colorado River Basin, June 2016), we noted how more than 2 dozen federally‐recognized tribes in the basin hold rights to divert nearly a fifth of the river’s average flow, with several additional claims unquantified or pending. This assessment was drawn from the 2012 Basin Study which, admittedly, was a preliminary and incomplete review of tribal rights failing to consider tribal plans for additional development and how that development would affect existing uses. These reserved water rights came into existence when reservations were established, many in the late 1800s, so that Indians would be able to establish a viable homeland. Indian reserved water rights are not dependent on use and are not subject to abandonment; most remain undeveloped. The U.S. Supreme Court made clear the importance of tribal water claims in Arizona v. California, quantifying the rights of the five tribes with reservations directly along the Colorado mainstream in these two states to divert nearly one million acre‐feet annually. Since that 1963 decision, many other tribal claims have been resolved—primarily using settlement agreements confirmed by Congress. Other significant claims, however, remain unresolved.

Despite the strength and magnitude of these water rights, tribes with reservations in the Colorado River Basin historically have not been active participants in basin water planning and decision making. However, over the past year, things appear to be changing. For example, while the Basin Study made no attempt to consider tribal plans for additional use of water under their rights or how that development would affect existing uses, it did set the table for a subsequent Tribal Water Study conducted jointly by Reclamation and the Ten Tribes Partnership. That study was issued in December, 2018. Even more recently, Arizona’s participation in the Drought Contingency Plan was made possible in large part due to the participation of the Gila River Indian Tribe and the Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT). Each tribe committed 50,000 acre‐feet per year of tribal water for three years to be kept in Lake Mead to help maintain storage levels and reduce the threat of a legal shortage declaration. Arizona will pay each tribe $250 per acre‐foot, or $12.5 million per year, for the water. With these milestones now in place, it is valuable to reexamine what we know of tribal water rights, and what the next steps might be in fully integrating tribes into Colorado River management.

Greta Thunberg: The teenage old soul of the climate crisis — CNN

Greta Thunberg via Twitter

Here’s an in-depth look at Greta Thunberg from Bill Weir writing for CNN. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

Eyes wide and head down, her discomfort with crowds and small talk make it easy to understand why Greta Thunberg says she was “an invisible girl” for most of her 16 years.

But when Thunberg went to Washington — into the lights, cameras and lack-of-action that makes up the modern congressional hearing — the smallest and youngest person in the room came off as the oldest soul on Capitol Hill.

Brushing off Republican talking points and Democratic flattery with equal flat annoyance, even friendly softballs were treated as reminders that she takes this much more seriously than most grown-ups. Even those in the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Climate.

“How can we get more kids involved in this issue?” asked Rep. Ben Luján, a Democrat from New Mexico.

“Just tell them the truth,” she said. “Tell them how it is. Because when I found out how it actually is, it made me furious.”

Her manner is level and unflinching, her voice soft and halting and she admits she may be the most reluctant activist in modern times. Yet in the age of Instagram filters and charismatic influencers, something about her raw honesty around a message of blunt-force fear turned this girl from invisible to global.

“As it is now, people in general don’t seem to be very aware of the actual science and how serious this crisis is,” she said to the scattered lawmakers and dozens of cameras at the hearing this week. “I think we need to inform them and start treating the crisis like the existential threat it is.”

Click here to read the text of her speech to Congress.

Lead on Greta, Coyote Gulch was on the streets of Denver on Friday hoping that we’ll get through to the folks in power before it is too late.