Water in the West


Seven years ago, a pulse of water on the Colorado River at the U.S.-Mexico border temporarily reconnected it to the Pacific Ocean. Scientists used the so-called “pulse flow” to study what plant and animal life returned to the desiccated delta along with water.

Armed with that knowledge, scientists and conservation groups are trying a new and more targeted strategy to bring water back to the final 100 miles of the Colorado River this year.

News Brief: Luke Runyon on Western Water Shortages

Jul 20, 2021

Lake Powell is at its lowest level ever. The Federal government could declare a water shortage throughout the Colorado River Basin as soon as August.  For this week’s News Brief, KDNK’s Amy Hadden Marsh spoke with KUNC water reporter Luke Runyon to find out what this means.

The water levels behind the Colorado River’s biggest dams are fast-approaching or already at record lows. The historic 21-year megadrought that is squeezing some Western states’ water supplies will also likely start showing up in energy bills, because those dams can’t produce as much electricity.

Melting snow and flowing irrigation ditches mean spring has finally arrived at the base of Grand Mesa in western Colorado.

Harts Basin Ranch, a 3,400-acre expanse of hayfields and pasture just south of Cedaredge, in Delta County, is coming back to life with the return of water.

The Colorado River’s biggest reservoirs are likely to drop to historically low levels later this year, prompting mandatory conservation by some of the river’s heaviest users.

The latest Bureau of Reclamation reservoir projections, which take into account river flows in a given year, show a likelihood that Lake Mead on the Arizona-Nevada stateline will dip below the critical threshold of 1,075 feet in elevation in May and remain below that level for the foreseeable future.

The Fort Yuma-Quechan Indian Tribe is situated at a nexus in the Colorado River Basin.

That’s true in a geographic sense. The tribe’s reservation overlays the Arizona-California border near Yuma, Arizona. The two states are heavily reliant on water from the Colorado River.

WWII B-29 Bomber at Bottom of Lake Mead

Mar 9, 2021
National Park Service

In 1948, a World War II bomber crashed into Lake Mead. After several attempts to find the plane, it was finally discovered in the early 2000s — still remarkably intact. But, what happens as water levels in Lake Mead drop? H2O Radio’s Frani Halperin reports.

Courtesy Glen Canyon Institute

Lake Powell, one of the Colorado River’s largest reservoirs, is dropping. While the decline means trouble for the region’s ongoing water scarcity issues, it presents a unique opportunity for a group of Utah-based river runners. As KZMU’s Molly Marcello  reports, hidden rapids are being revealed as the water drops.

Jessie Paul/Colorado Sun

Colorado plans to join other states opposing the fast-tracking of a major water project in Utah. This week’s News Brief features KDNK's Amy Hadden Marsh in conversation with Colorado Sun reporter Jason Blevins about his recent article on the issue

Many communities in the West are growing, and in some places that’s putting pressure on already scarce water supplies.

That’s the case in northern Colorado, where a proposed set of reservoirs promises to allow small suburbs to keep getting bigger. The project, called the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP), has stirred up a familiar debate over how the West grows, and whether water should be a limiting factor.

Project Dig Deep Brings Water to Navajo Homes

Sep 14, 2020
Dig Deep for KSUT

Studies show that up to a third of Navajo Nation households lack indoor plumbing. But several projects now underway are trying to bridge what's known as the “water gap.” Mark Duggan reports for KSUT Public Radio. 

Utah Plans Water Pipeline from Lake Powell

Feb 3, 2020
Wikimedia Commons

The Trump administration has fast-tracked one of the largest new water projects on the Colorado River. KDNK's Amy Hadden Marsh has this report.

Valley Voices: Andy Mueller on the Grand Bargain

Sep 12, 2019
wikipedia


Water officials across the West are talking about a Grand Bargain that would change the 1922 Colorado River Compact. For this week's Valley Voices, host Amy Hadden Marsh talks with Andy Mueller, director of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, to find out more about the deal.

Climate Change Sparks Shift in Colorado River Management

Sep 9, 2019
CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3950691
Christian Mehlführer

Water officials across the West are talking about a Grand Bargain that would change the 1922 Colorado River Compact. KDNK’s Amy Hadden Marsh spoke with Andy Mueller, director of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, to find out more about the deal. In this clip, he explains the Bargain’s background. 

Luke Runyon, KUNC

The Colorado River is running low on water. The lifeline that slakes the thirst of 40 million southwestern residents is projected to hit a historic low mark within two years, forcing mandatory cuts to water deliveries in Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.