#SCOTUS #TX v. #NM and #Colorado: “New Mexicans, though, lift their faces to the rain” — Laura Paskus

Map of the Rio Grande watershed, showing the Rio Chama joining the Rio Grande near Santa Fe. Graphic credit WikiMedia.

Here’s a report from Laura Paskus writing for The New Mexico Political Report. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

In its U.S. Supreme Court case against New Mexico and Colorado, the State of Texas says that by letting farmers in southern New Mexico pump from wells near the Rio Grande, our state has failed to send its legal share of water downstream. The water fight has some New Mexicans gnawing their nails—and not just southern farmers whose water rights could be cut if Texas prevails.

Monday’s oral arguments before the court, over whether the feds can intervene under the Rio Grande Compact, drew a large crowd from the Land of Enchantment. Watching the proceedings from the audience were some of the state’s most prominent water attorneys, as well as Attorney General Hector Balderas, State Engineer Tom Blaine, an entire crew of employees from the Office of the State Engineer, officials from the City of Las Cruces and the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, and U.S. Sen. Tom Udall.

Like everyone else, New Mexico’s senior senator, a Democrat, had to check his coat and belongings before entering the court, and after arguments, Udall said he wanted to be there because the case will affect the management and division of water use by farmers and communities for decades.

“Regardless of the ultimate decision, it’s critical that we understand that one of the root causes of the dispute is the increasing scarcity of water in the Southwest, and climate change is making that worse,” he said. “We must seek cooperative solutions or there will be more disputes over water—not fewer.”

There’s a lot at stake: The state has already spent $15 million on staff and legal fees. And if the Supreme Court decides in favor of Texas, New Mexico could owe a billion dollars or more in damages and be forced to curtail groundwater pumping around places like Hatch, Las Cruces and Mesilla.

Intervening interests

Now entering its sixth year, No. 141, Original: Texas v. New Mexico and Colorado stems from a deal two irrigation districts signed with the federal government during the drought of the 2000s.

After the relatively wet decades of the ’80s and ’90s ended, the Elephant Butte Irrigation District and El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1 watched reservoir levels drop. In 2008, they decided to share water through dry times. The two signed a new agreement with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, operator of the Rio Grande Project, which is anchored by Elephant Butte Reservoir.

But the two states weren’t parties to that agreement—and then-New Mexico Attorney General Gary King sued the federal government, alleging too much water was being given to Texas.

In 2013, Texas fired back against New Mexico and Colorado, pointing out that by allowing farmers to pump groundwater connected to the Rio Grande, New Mexico had for decades taken more than its legal share of water under the Rio Grande Compact of 1938.

That’s the case moving through the US Supreme Court. But things are even more complicated than they seem.

That’s in part because under the compact, New Mexico doesn’t deliver Texas’ water at the state line. Rather, water goes to Elephant Butte Reservoir, about 100 miles north of Texas. From there, the Bureau of Reclamation delivers it to farmers in both southern New Mexico and Texas.

Now, the United States says that by allowing farmers to pump groundwater, New Mexico has harmed its ability to deliver water under the compact, as well as under the international treaty with Mexico.

And that brings us to Monday’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court…

During the fast-paced arguments, seven of the nine justices questioned each of the attorneys, parsing their way through Western water rights and the role Reclamation plays in both Texas and New Mexico. (Clarence Thomas stayed characteristically quiet and Samuel Alito asked no questions.) Many asked questions about the compact, the Reclamation Act of 1902 and treaty rights.

For Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, however, the case was clear.

In response to Colorado’s opposition of federal intervention, Breyer cited the U.S. Constitution, which allows the federal government to intervene in cases in its own interest.

“Obviously, the founders who wrote this wouldn’t want three or four or five or six states to enter into some compact that might wreck the Union,” Breyer said. “So doesn’t that suggest that they do have a right, the United States, to intervene, at least where there is a federal interest?”

It seems “quite simple,” he said: “The Constitution foresees that they can intervene where there’s an interest. They have several interests. End of case, unless there is something that I don’t see.”

Colorado and New Mexico don’t see it that way, of course.

New Mexico doesn’t object to the US joining the case; in fact, the state argues it is a necessary party to the suit. But New Mexico doesn’t want the federal government to raise a claim under the Rio Grande Compact.

After questions from multiple justices, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, New Mexico’s Rael tried to clarify that distinction, noting that the U.S. doesn’t own water rights itself under the compact or through the Rio Grande Project.

“Those water rights are owned by the landowners themselves who are represented by their individual states as parens patriae,” he said to Kagan. “And so the United States has an interest in the project, and they can certainly sue to enforce to make sure that we’re meeting our—that we’re not interfering with its project obligations, but it can’t sue us under the compact.”

[…]

She also worries that if the justices decide that the U.S. can assert a federal interest in a case between states, that could affect other interstate river compacts.

What [Samantha Barncastle] seems to want more than anything, though, is an end to fighting. It would be better for people to control their own destiny, she says, and work together instead of litigating.

“When you’re talking about a multi-billion dollar agricultural economy and municipalities and colonias, and all these different water users, you have got to look at other solutions beyond pure litigation,” she says. As interesting as it was for everyone to come to the Supreme Court this week, she says, how things might shake out is scary.

Leaving the court later that day, past the contemplative figure of Justice and her scales, the gray sky starts to spit freezing rain. Women flip open umbrellas, men hunker down into their scarves. New Mexicans, though, lift their faces to the rain.

Here’s the timeline for the case from The New Mexico Political Report:

Things are complicated. Here’s a timeline to help you keep track of the Supreme Court lawsuit New Mexico is facing on the Lower Rio Grande.

1902 – The United States Reclamation Service (now the US Bureau of Reclamation) is established to study and develop water resources in Western states.

1906 – The United States and Mexico sign a convention to ensure the Rio Grande’s waters are shared equitably between the two countries.

1906 – Construction begins on dams and canals on the Rio Grande. Leasburg Diversion Dam and Canal is completed in 1908, Elephant Butte Dam in 1916 and Caballo Dam in 1938. The Rio Grande Project, operated by the Bureau of Reclamation, provides irrigation water to farmers in southern New Mexico and Texas.

1938 – Colorado, New Mexico and Texas work out the Rio Grande Compact in a desire to “remove all causes of present and future controversy” among states and their citizens. The treaty was ratified by the three states and passed by Congress in 1939, and amended in 1948.

1950s – Drought strains water supplies along the Rio Grande. Farmers along the Rio Grande in Southern New Mexico and Texas drill about 1,000 new irrigation wells to supplement surface water supplies with groundwater.

2003 – After decades of relatively wet conditions, drought hits New Mexico, putting a strain on Rio Grande water supplies and reservoir levels.

2006-2007 – US Bureau of Reclamation creates a new operating procedure, which water users in southern New Mexico (Elephant Butte Irrigation District) and Texas (El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1) sue over.

2008 – US Bureau of Reclamation, the Elephant Butte Irrigation District, and the El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1 come to an agreement over water deliveries and sharing. The states of Texas and New Mexico are not a part of this new operating agreement for the Rio Grande Project.

2011 – Then-New Mexico Attorney General Gary King sues the US Bureau of Reclamation in New Mexico federal district court over the 2008 Operating Agreement, alleging that too much water was being given to Texas—water that should have stayed in New Mexico.

2013 – Texas sues New Mexico and Colorado in the US Supreme Court over violations of the compact. Texas alleges that by allowing farmers to pump groundwater connected to the Rio Grande, New Mexico has been taking more than its share of compact water. Texas wants the court to make New Mexico pay for the water it has been taking, over the course of many decades.

2014 – Special Master A Gregory Grimsal is appointed in the case and directed to submit reports to the court.

2014 – US Bureau of Reclamation intervenes in the case, alleging that by allowing farmers to draw water from the river and below ground, New Mexico is allowing people to use more water than they legally should. And it says New Mexico’s diversions interfere with water deliveries to Mexico.

2014 – New Mexico makes a motion to dismiss Texas’ complaint. (The court denies this in 2017.)

2015 – In a report to the New Mexico Legislature, scientists note that the Mesilla Valley aquifer “may no longer have the capacity to provide a reliable, supplemental supply during extended drought conditions and with the current levels of intensive use of groundwater.”

2016 – The special master releases his draft report, which indicates Texas has the upper hand in the lawsuit and recommends the high court reject New Mexico’s motion to dismiss.

September 2016 – US Bureau of Reclamation releases its final decision and environmental studies related to the 2008 Operating Agreement, which outlines operations through 2050.

January 2017 – New Mexico Office of the Attorney General, Office of the State Engineer and the Interstate Stream Commission announce they are working together on the case and also enter into joint defense agreements with New Mexico State University, PNM, the New Mexico Pecan Growers Association, Southern Rio Grande Diversified Crop Farmers Association, the City of Las Cruces and Camino Real Regional Utility Authority.

February 2017 – Special Master finalizes his first interim report. Parties have the chance to reply and/or file exceptions to his report.

January 2018 – Oral arguments occur in US Supreme Court. Justices hear from attorneys for Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and the federal government.

Elephant Butte Reservoir back in the day nearly full

Gilcrest: High groundwater levels update

South Platte River Basin via the Colorado Geological Survey

From The Greeley Tribune (Tyler Silvy):

Underneath Gilcrest lies an aquifer, and the water in that aquifer should slowly make its way north, underground, to the South Platte River.

When it didn’t, at least not at the rate some say it should have, downstream surface water rights holders weren’t too happy and blamed the newer wells in this area as the culprit.

Irrigation wells were first put into Colorado’s prior appropriation system following legislation in 1969. Prior appropriation is a fancy way of saying water rights, and water rights are organized by the date a farmer or ditch owner or reservoir owner or well owner first used the water. People who first diverted water have senior water rights as early as the 1850s.

So, when farmers across Gilcrest began digging wells in the early 1900s, they were infringing upon longstanding senior surface water rights downstream, because that well pumping affected downstream flows in the river.

Numerous studies have shown the negative effects of well pumping, and how it depletes river flows even years later. But for farmers around Gilcrest, the court solutions and augmentation decrees are out of balance with well owners’ perceived wrongdoings and even with Mother Nature…

The impacts of less well pumping are many:

» Less well pumping means less water for crops during crucial times, such as when Strohauer had to deal with weeds in a potato crop because he couldn’t pump enough water to treat the fields with weed killer early in the season.

» High groundwater leaves mineral deposits, including salt, near the surface, rendering portions of fields useless and stunting crop growth…

Glenn Fritzler, owner of the famed Fritzler Corn Maze, used to plant one-third of his land in onions, another third in carrots and the final third in corn. Apparently, carrot and onion mazes haven’t yet taken off.

But there’s a problem. Carrots and onions need a lot of water – about as much as corn. They’re also quite sensitive to salty soils, something exacerbated by high groundwater, which deposits salts near the surface once they recede, and by less well pumping, because over-watering is one way of dealing with salty soils.

So Fritzler has changed crops. He’s now planting a quarter of his land in onions, a sixth in carrots and the rest in corn and winter wheat, which uses less water.

Winter wheat isn’t a money maker, certainly not when compared to produce, which, when healthy during a strong market is a farmer’s lottery, capable of paying off farm equipment and setting aside a nice chunk of dough.

“You’re probably breaking even at best; probably minimizing your losses,” Fritzler said of winter wheat. “It’s better than not growing anything.”

Jan. 1, 2006.

At least half of the wells along the South Platte River Basin were either reduced or shut down. Thousands of wells, built to get farmers through dry years, couldn’t be operated without an augmentation decree from water court.

Such a decree requires farmers to replace portions of what they pump.

Even farmers who obtained such decrees saw the face of farming change overnight thanks not only to requirements that well pumpers replace portions of what they pump, but that they replace what they had pumped since 1976.

It’s called augmentation, and there are a variety of ways to do it.

One such way is called artificial recharge, and typically it involves digging a shallow pond, filling the bottom with rock or sand to make it more porous, and then filling that pond with water as often as possible.

Artificial recharge, essentially putting water back into the underground aquifer well pumping has drained, pays dividends for farmers.

Almost every acre-foot of water poured into an artificial recharge pond can be claimed to allow well pumping in the future.

It’s why Randy Ray, executive director for Colorado Central Water Conservancy District, says farmers in the LaSalle-Gilcrest area are better off today than they were in 2006.

But it has come at a cost. Some farmers weren’t able to pump their wells for seven years, including the drought year of 2012, when farmers dried up hundreds of acres of corn.

Strohauer doesn’t like to look upon his eastern neighbors with envy. But he does notice things. He has his pilot’s license, and when he was taking potato samples to Imperial, Neb., to get tested for pests in 2012, he noticed something…

For farmers, the formulas used to determine how long recharge water takes to get to the river and how many days they’re able to pump are a headache-inducing mess.

In 2010, when Strohauer’s field was full of rotting potatoes, Stulp recommended Strohauer put in a de-watering well. Essentially, he wanted Strohauer to dig a well, pump water out of that, put it in a pipeline or ditch and send it back to the river.

Strohauer threw up his hands, pointing to his existing irrigation well on the property, the one the courts shut down…

“I looked at John, and I said, ‘John, right there’s your de-watering well. It’s right there. Let us pump the stupid well, and we’ll let the surface water go down the river, and it doesn’t cost the state a single dime. It will cost us some power, and somebody receives some extra water down the river. How hard is that?'”

It’s quite hard, actually, because things are never simple when it comes to water.

If a farmer here sends that water downstream, that will affect the flow of the river, and believe it or not, even the senior water rights holders may not want that extra water all the time. For instance, those rights holders out east may not want extra water coming downstream in March because they don’t have the reservoir capacity to store it.

The formula, called the Glover formula, was first used in the 1950s, and it tells everyone how much that well pumping will affect the river and when. Nearly 70 years later, we’re still using the formula, and Ray, Strohauer, Fritzler and countless others don’t know why.

Bob Longenbaugh, who once worked in the state engineer’s office, and has spent decades studying groundwater, is one of those others.

Longenbaugh said the Glover formula overestimates the impacts of pumping on the aquifer, meaning farmers around Gilcrest are forced to push more water downstream than Mother Nature says.

Further, the formula makes too many assumptions, Longenbaugh said. Among the assumptions are no precipitation, the idea none of the water used to irrigate crops soaks into the soil to recharge the aquifer and an assumption the geology underground between any farm and the river is completely uniform.

#AnimasRiver: #UT expands lawsuit over the #GoldKingMine spill

Cement Creek photo via the @USGS Twitter feed

From the Associated Press via The Salt Lake Tribune:

Utah has added the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a contractor as defendants in the state’s lawsuit over a mine waste spill in Colorado that polluted rivers in three states.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office said Friday it’s still negotiating with the EPA over damages from the spill but filed suit to preserve the state’s legal rights.

The state didn’t explain why it added the contractor, Weston Solutions Inc. Neither the EPA nor Weston Solutions immediately responded to after-hours emails seeking comment.

Utah sued mine owners and other contractors in August seeking unspecified compensation for the 2015 spill at the Gold King Mine.

#TX v. #NM and #Colorado at US Supreme Court — January 8, 2018

Map of the Rio Grande watershed, showing the Rio Chama joining the Rio Grande near Santa Fe. Graphic credit WikiMedia.

From SCOTUSblog (Ryke Longest):

On January 8, the Supreme Court will hear an original jurisdiction dispute among three states that share interests in the flows of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo del Norte: Texas, Colorado and New Mexico. The congressionally approved Rio Grande Compact of 1938 apportioned water rights among these states. In 2014, the Supreme Court granted Texas’ motion for leave to file a complaint and the court’s appointed special master, A. Gregory Grimsal, has been working through preliminary matters since then. The United States filed a complaint in intervention against New Mexico as well. The upcoming argument focuses on the first interim report by the special master, which considered a motion to dismiss filed by New Mexico against the state of Texas and the United States and motions to intervene filed by an irrigation district and a water improvement district. On October 10, 2017, the court denied New Mexico’s motion to dismiss Texas’ complaint and denied the intervention motions by the two local water entities. The exception of the United States and the first exception of Colorado to the first interim report of the special master were set for oral argument, and those matters will be before the court on Monday, January 8, as part of an interstate-apportionment double header.

From KVIA.com (Kate Bieri):

New Mexico political and agricultural leaders will travel to Washington, D.C. for oral arguments in the U.S. Supreme Court case, Texas v. New Mexico and Colorado on Monday.

The litigation at hand involves a decades-old dispute among states in the southwest: Water…

In 2008, EBID and its sister district in El Paso entered into an operating agreement that provided El Paso with extra water to make up for those impacts of pumping here in the Mesilla Valley, Faubion said. Texas sued New Mexico in 2013, alleging a violation of that agreement.

“Texas made it clear at the time that if they challenged the operating agreement, that Texas would feel obliged to go to the Supreme Court, and that is exactly what happened and that is exactly why we’re here where we are today,” Faubion said.

“This is a huge issue that could affect states all across the nation,” said Samantha Barncastle Salopek, General Counsel for the Elephant Butte Irrigation District.

Barncastle told ABC-7 that this could be a precedent-setting case because the federal government has moved to intervene in the dispute among states.

“What the United States has said is that they have enough of a federal interest in this contract, that even though they have not signed on to it, they’re not a party to the contract, they should still be allowed to come into this case and litigate as though they were a party to the contract,” Barncastle said.

Las Cruces city officials would not comment on the case because of pending litigation.

Elephant Butte Reservoir back in the day nearly full

Castle Rock: A look back at 2017

WISE System Map via the South Metro Water Supply Authority

Here’s a look back at 2017 in Castle Rock. Click through and read the whole article. Here’s an excerpt:

What was Castle Rock’s biggest accomplishment in 2017?

[Mayor Jennifer Green:] 2017 was full of a number of accomplishments in Castle Rock. The reopening of Festival Park in downtown ranks as a wonderful achievement and provides a great place for the community to gather for years to come. The town adopted a new comprehensive plan, a new transportation master plan and new water enterprise master plans — all of these plans seek to ensure a vibrant future for our town.

What opportunity for the town are you most looking forward to in 2018?

[Mayor Jennifer Green:] The successful completion of the WISE project in 2018 will provide a new source of renewable drinking water for Castle Rock from our water partnerships in the metro area. We anticipate the start of construction for the initial phase of the Collaboration Campus in 2018 — this innovative effort with Arapahoe Community College, Colorado State University and Douglas County School District will bring a greater variety of higher education opportunities to Castle Rock. We also have transportation improvements coming along Founders Parkway, at Allen Way and Crowfoot Valley Road, and at Wolfensberger and Coachline roads.

#COleg: HB16-1256 South Platte Storage Study recommends surface and aquifer storage

Illustration shows water availability, in blue circles, compared with demand at various places along the South Platte River. The yellow area is the study area. (Illustration by Stantec).

Click here to read the report.

From The Sterling Journal-Advocate (Jeff Rice):

The best way to meet Colorado’s growing water demand and still protect irrigation water rights is probably a combination of increased surface storage and underground, or aquifer storage. But even that combination won’t bridge the gap between water demand and supply.

That’s the good news and the bad news from the recently-completed South Platte Storage Study Final Report, released Dec. 15. The report was written by Stantec, a Canada-based design, engineering and construction firm, and Leonard Rice Engineering of Denver.

The study, authorized by the Colorado General Assembly in House Bill 16-1256, looked at the stretch of the South Platte River between Kersey and the Nebraska state line in an attempt to find water storage to fill a crippling water gap that is just 12 years away. According to the 2015 Colorado Water Plan, by 2030 the need for water in Colorado will exceed supplies by 560,000 acre feet, or 182 billion gallons per year, and most of that is here in the South Platte River Basin.

Experts already have said that water conservation alone won’t bridge the gap as thirsty Front Range cities continue to grow; even legislators have made it clear that they want to see proposals for storage as much as for conservation.

But, as with everything else having to do with water, finding and then using that storage is going to be complicated.

According to the SPSS report, it’s estimated that the South Platte carries almost 300,000 acre feet of water per year out of Colorado in excess of the amount needed to satisfy the South Platte River Compact with Nebraska. There are, however, a lot of “buts” that need to be attached to that broad statement.

For one thing, that’s not an average, that’s what the study authors called an “annual median.” That’s the middle number between the largest and smallest amounts that are lost; median, or “mean,” often is used instead of average because it’s a more accurate estimate of something over time.

Actual losses over a 20-year period between 1996 and 2015 varied from a paltry 10,000 acre feet to a whopping 1.9 million acre feet. It’s important to note that stream flows during that time frame included one of the largest floods in the state’s history and a follow-up flood that did nearly as much damage in the lower reaches of the river, as well as a period of extended drought.

The report also says that considerably more water is available at the Julesburg end of the reach than at the Kersey end, primarily because of return flows from irrigation. That indicates the need for a large reservoir to capture water before it leaves the state…

That may not be easy; according to the report, massive amounts of water would have to be diverted.

“Large diversion and conveyance structures would be needed to capture and convey water from the river to off-channel storage,” the study says. “At the Balzac gage near the middle of the SPSS study area, a diversion capacity of 550 (cubic feet per second) would be needed to capture 85 percent of the available water.”

That’s as much as some of the largest diversion structures now on the river. The North Sterling Inlet Canal, for instance, was taking around 520 cfs before cold weather and icing required it to be scaled back. Prewitt Reservoir Inlet can divert as much as 600 cfs when the water’s available.

It’s important to note the phrase “85 percent of available water.” Elsewhere in its recommendations section the report states that capturing all of the excess water is simply not feasible, and that’s not just during flood conditions.

“No feasible storage concepts or reasonable combinations of concepts are capable of putting all the available flow in the lower South Platte River to beneficial use,” the report says. “Therefore as a general principle, more storage will always be ‘better’ in this region in terms of maximizing available supply for basin water users.”

Still, finding and optimizing storage is a must if there is to be any hope of providing enough water to go around. The report, naturally, recommends a combination of storage methods, and even suggests that a cooperative effort of upper basin and lower basin storage concepts would be more efficient and store more water than a major “on-stem” reservoir. On the other hand, the on-stem option would be easier to build and yield more water quickly; it also faces possibly insurmountable permitting requirements.

No water storage concept is without good-versus-bad arguments. Aquifer or “underground” storage is complicated to manage but cheaper to create, and it can be easily ramped u over time. Storage options are grater in the lower basin but they’re further from where the water will actually be needed. Underground storage is great for agricultural use but the water would have to be extensively treated for municipal and industrial use.

The study even raised some new questions and left unanswered some old ones. For instance, abandoned gravel pits weren’t even included in the project, and the SPSS authors recommend further study of that option. They also recommend further studies of the South Platte above Kersey and of the Cache la Poudre basin.

Ultimately, the study’s authors say, the SPSS is a “starting point” and further investigation of any of the storage methods or sites would be needed.

“The work in the SPSS is a starting point for more specific alternative investigations,” the study says, “but substantial additional analysis will be required to test the feasibility of specific storage options based on points of diversion, intake systems, and methods of operating to meet demands.”

#NM 2017 water year in review — @JFleck

An acequia along the Las Trampas in northern New Mexico is suspended on a trestle. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Here’s a report from John Fleck writing on InkStain. Click through and read the whole article. The graphics John has included are worth the click. Here’s an excerpt:

…however, we’re in remarkably good shape right now, the result of both a very good 2017, and significant water conservation and management efforts that leave our human water supply systems in decent shape to weather a bad snowpack.

2017 runoff on the Rio Grande was outstanding – more than a million acre feet of water flowed past the Albuquerque gauge, beneath the Central Avenue bridge. But if you look at the graph to the left, you can also see how unusual a big runoff year is. This was only the third above-average year in the 21st century. “New normal” or whatever, this clearly requires an adjustment.

As a result of the big flow year, reservoir storage is in good shape. Elephant Butte, Abiquiu, El Vado, and Heron combined (the four primary reservoirs on the Rio Grande system in New Mexico) are up a combined ~300,000 acre feet over last year at this time. “Good shape” is relative here – Elephant Butte is still only 20 percent full, far from the glory days of the 1990s. But up is still up, and the Butte is up.

The most interesting thing, to me, is Albuquerque’s aquifer. This is the vast pool of water beneath the metro area, on which we’ve depended for much of the city’s modern life. A shift away from groundwater pumping to the use of surface water from the Colorado River Basin (via the San Juan-Chama Project), combined with significant conservation measures, have led to a rebound that seems unmatched among major urban aquifers in the western United States. Modeling done by the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer suggests aquifer storage is rising by 20,000 acre feet or more a year. Beneath my house, it’s risen more than 30 feet since our 2008 water management shift began.