Coyote Gulch’s excellent EV adventure — #ColoradoRiver Day 5

Coyote Gulch’s Leaf charging at Red Rock Hyundai in Grand Junction May 23, 2023.

Day 5 was a short drive day from Grand Junction to Glenwood Springs.

Colorado River at Los Colonias Park in Grand Junction May 23, 2023

Before leaving Grand Junction we drove to Los Colonias Park to see what the city was up to. The water level was high in the small craft zone and no one was braving it.

Colorado River from CR-311(?).

I like to get off the Interstate when possible, it takes less charge and you leave the tension and traffic behind. I stumbled upon CR-311(?). It dead-ended and I had to backtrack a ways to get back to I-70 but snagged a short video.

Glenwood wave May 23, 2023.

The Glenwood wave is a favorite for many in Glenwood Springs. I asked a guy who was preparing to engage the wave what the velocity was, he answered with a broad smile, “12,000 cfs.”

Charging was in Grand Junction and then Rifle.

Deadpool Diaries: “Nice river basin ya’ got there….” — John Fleck (InkStain) #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

Nice boat ya got there, would be a shame if somethin’ happened to it.. Photo credit: John Fleck

This feels like a shakedown.

For decades, Lower Colorado River water users have been taking more water than the river can provide, threatening their own communities’ futures. Unable to come up with a plan to live within their water means, they’re now asking us to pay them to not crash the system on which we all depend.

The shakedown comes in the form of a letter this morning from California, Arizona, and Nevada to the Department of Interior laying out an agreement that would (as near as I can tell, the letter is light on details) reduce water use in the Lower Basin by 3 million acre feet above and beyond already agred-upon cuts (the 2007 Guidelines and Drought Contingency Plan) between now and 2026, with the bulk of those reductions to be compensated with federal money.


I’ve been putting off reporters today, saying I didn’t want to comment without seeing more detail on the proposal’s water numbers. I stand by that hesitancy. It’s hard to know if the cuts will be enough to accomplish what needs to be accomplished. But there’s some language that is encouraging.

First, the proposal includes a helpful “what if” – if the hydrology is bad and the cuts aren’t enough, the states will come up with “an implementable plan” to keep Mead above elevation 1,000. “If such an acceptable plan, as determined by Reclamation, is not developed, Reclamation may independently take action(s) to protect 1,000 feet.”

But I hope you can see the weirdness here. “If we can’t figure out how to save ourselves from our overuse of water, we give Reclamation permission to save us.”

Second, if the hydrology is bad enough to risk dropping Powell below elevation 3,500, the states are cool with Reclamation dropping releases from Powell as low as 6 million acre feet. Sorta. “If we can’t figure out how to reduce our use enough to save Glen Canyon Dam, we give Reclamation permission to go ahead and save it anyway.”


In the fall class Bob Berrens and I teach in the University of New Mexico’s Water Resources Program, we have a common refrain in discussion of the students’ suggestions for dealing with water shortfalls: “That sounds like a great idea, how are you going to pay for it?” The answer is invariably state or federal money  – “other people’s money”, not the money of the community benefitting from the use of the water and suffering the consequences of shortages.

We spend a lot of time talking about the tradeoff. When you take other people’s money, you also have to accept other people’s values.

Here’s the pertinent language from today’s letter from California, Arizona, and Nevada:

There seems to be $1.2 billion of that IRA money on the table here, according to the New York Times story.

That’s the shakedown. If you don’t pay us a big pile of federal cash, we’ll just run Lake Mead to deadpool. Or, alternatively, if you don’t pay us a big pile of federal cash, we’ll drag the Colorado River Basin into litigation that will make the river ungovernable, a sort of institutional deadpool. Either way, it’s a shakedown.

There’s nothing here that is any sort of a nod to what we might expect from the Lower Basin in return for our largesse other than, “If you pay us, we won’t crash the thing.”


I am sympathetic to the water users whose entitlements were ensured under Article VIII of the Colorado River Compact: “Present perfected rights to the beneficial use of waters of the Colorado River System are unimpaired by this compact.”

This is an important protection for Tribal water rights, and also some of the big ag districts. Great! Let the Lower Basin’s junior users work out a deal with the pre-compact rights holders to move that water around. Let’s see a QSA for Arizona. Let’s see QSA II for California. Show us your plan to live within your means, other than “Pay us to live within our means.”

The approach in the Lower Basin states letter – have the federal taxpayers pick up the tab rather than the people who’ve created the mess – sets a dangerous precedent for our approach in the post-2026 Colorado River management world.

Map credit: AGU

2023 #COleg: Governor Polis signs law expanding environmental options for home landscaping in #Colorado — CBS #Denver 7 #conservation

Turf replacement. Photo credit: Western Resource Advocates

Click the link to read the article on the CBS Denver 7 website (Katie Perkins). Here’s an excerpt:

Gov. Jared Polis has signed into law a measure that would change Coloradans’ Homeowner Association rules. Around 60% of Coloradans live under a HOA, according to a press release from the governor’s office. Under the newly confirmed State Senate Bill 178, homeowners can now swap their grass lawns for alternatives like turf that require less water.

Previously, state law granted an exception for an HOA to adopt design or aesthetic guidelines that apply to “nonvegetative turf grass and drought-tolerant vegetative landscapes.” The association was allowed to regulate the type, number and placement of drought-tolerant plants installed on a homeowner’s property.

SB 23-178 states that an association’s guidelines now cannot:

  • Prohibit the use of nonvegetative turf grass in the backyard of a property
  • Unreasonably require the use of hardscape on more than 20% of the landscaping area of a property
  • Prevent a homeowner from choosing an option that consists of at least 80% drought-tolerant plantings
  • Prohibit vegetable gardens in the front, back, or side yard of a unit owner’s property

Bureau of Reclamation Navajo Reservoir 2023 spring release schedule May 23, 2023 #SanJuanRiver #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

From email from Reclamation (Susan Novak Behery):

The Bureau of Reclamation is continuing to schedule release changes for the spring peak release from Navajo Reservoir.  

The scheduled increase to 4,600 cfs for today will be postponed. The release will remain at its current level (4,000 cfs) until tomorrow. At that point, the river conditions will be re-evaluated for the scheduled ramp-up.   

Release changes are made based on river conditions and coordination with federal, state, and local agencies.  

The shape and timing of the hydrograph have been coordinated with the San Juan River Basin Recovery Implementation Program to balance Recovery Program benefits with flood control and operational safety. During spring operations, releases from the Navajo Unit will be made in an attempt to remain at or below the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers safe channel capacity of 5,000 cfs between Navajo Reservoir and the confluence with the Animas River in Farmington, and 12,000 cfs downstream of Farmington.  The release may be changed or reduced if the precipitation forecast shows a risk of exceeding safe channel capacity in the San Juan River. 

Areas in the immediate vicinity of the river channel may be unstable and dangerous. River crossing may change and be impassable as flows increase. Please use extra caution near the river channel and protect or remove any valuable property in these areas. 

Please stay tuned as a notice with an updated schedule will be sent out daily during the release. Notices will also be posted to our website along with the latest release schedule.