2018 Year in Review: The biggest news stories of the year
As the New Year approaches, compiling a list of the top stories in the Arizona water industry is always a challenge because there’s always a lot to choose from. But 2018 truly was more eventful than other years in recent memory.
From the increased efforts of Drought Contingency Planning, to a wildfire season unlike any other, to the ongoing drought declarations within the Southwest, take a look back at some of the key moments in 2018, as they were reported by Arizona Water News.
Getting to the Finish Line: What’s next for Colorado River Drought Contingency Planning?
By Arizona Department of Water Resources and Central Arizona Project
Arizona has worked over the course of several years with the other States in the Colorado River Basin and the United States to develop an interstate Drought Contingency Plan to protect Colorado River supplies. Within Arizona, stakeholders have been working to develop an Implementation Plan, a series of agreements that will govern the way that certain terms of the DCP will be implemented within Arizona once the DCP is effective.
How Will AZDCP Fit Into the Colorado River Basin Drought Contingency Plan?
While Arizona water managers and affected stakeholders have been meeting almost daily over the past several months to finalize the state’s Drought Contingency Plan (DCP), plans have been underway on a parallel track for several years to ensure the framework is in place for the entire Colorado River Basin DCP.
The DCP makes CO River delivery shortfalls less painful, but it doesn’t make them go away
By Tom Buschatzke, Arizona Department of Water Resources Director, and Ted Cooke, Central Arizona Project General Manager
The State’s water stakeholders have been engaged for more than two months to craft Arizona’s approach to the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan. This effort, led by our two agencies, is directed toward “bending the curve” to protect Lake Mead from falling to critical levels.
Planning for second Drought Contingency Plan briefing underway
The next step in the reinvigorated effort to bring a Drought Contingency Plan in Arizona to closure is scheduled for Tuesday, July 10, at the Heard Museum in central Phoenix.
Co-hosted once again by the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, the public meeting is set for 1-4 pm at the museum auditorium, located at 2301 N. Central Ave.
Water Resources & Central Arizona Project partner for briefing on Drought Contingency Plan
By clear consensus, the most important issue currently facing the Colorado River system is the as-yet unresolved question of what the states will do to lessen the risks of draconian shortages on the Colorado River.
Departing Department vet illustrates ADWR’s role in Arizona water management
The challenge facing the Arizona Department of Water Resources right now, said Department policy adviser and legislative liaison Doug Dunham, is to balance 17 years of on-going drought in the Southwest with healthy economic growth in Arizona.
Feds predicting short-term improvement on the Colo River system… and longer-term challenge
Part Two of the federal government’s annual August analysis of conditions on the Colorado River system are out, and – just like Part One – the results depict a mixed bag of decreasing risk in the short-term and rapidly increasing risk in the longer-term.
It’s official: Federal analysts expect no shortage at Lake Mead in 2018
The federal Bureau of Reclamation has completed its crucial August 2017 24-Month Study, which is part of a study of hydrology and projected operations of the Colorado River system. Results depict water flows slightly improved from recent years, enough to assure that Lake Mead will avoid a “shortage declaration” for 2018, at least.
Feds now see Lake Mead levels sinking 20 feet lower by ‘19 than predicted just last month
The sensational news about record-setting snowpack in the Sierra Nevada of California and “atmospheric rivers” delivering over 1,000 percent of normal winter rainfall to Big Sur has disguised a much less-than-sensational record of winter moisture elsewhere in the West.
The winter snowpack on the western slopes of the Rockies – the source moisture for the Colorado River – is producing much less runoff than had been anticipated.
Director Buschatzke responds to new CAWCD “Lake Mead” plan
If recent climatic experience has taught Arizonans anything, it is that the specter of drought is an ever-present proposition.
Droughts of 30- or even 50-year durations are not unknown phenomena.
So, even when Mother Nature blesses us with a wet year, like this year, water in the Southwest remains a scarce resource that must be managed cooperatively with a long-term view if we are to assure it remains available and abundant for the millions of people relying on it.
Arizona Water Resources Director says “no” to taking risks with the Colorado River
On the Opinion pages of Monday’s Arizona Republic, the director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, Tom Buschatzke, explains in detail why Arizona is not about to take risks with the state’s vital allocation of Colorado River water.
Planned water releases from Lake Powell may not look great, but they look good
It’s amazing how a few dry weeks can mess up things.
A very dry and warm early March has scuttled the federal Bureau of Reclamation’s much-anticipated plan to release over 11 million acre-feet of Colorado River water from Lake Powell downstream into Lake Mead – a so-called “equalization” release.
4 Take Aways from Saturday’s revelation of “contingency plans” for Colorado River water
Arizona Department of Water Resources director Tom Buschatzke detailed in an oped in Saturday's Arizona Republic the on-going, highly sensitive efforts to strike a three-state deal to leave a portion of the states’ Colorado River allocations in Lake Mead in order to keep the lake above critical levels.
With a sweep of his hand toward vast, new wetlands blossoming at the southernmost corner of the Gila River Indian Community, Tribal Governor Stephen Lewis explained the dual purpose behind the tribe’s investment in the fast-rushing waters flowing near the site known as the Olberg Bridge.
"Fill Mead First" plan to drain Lake Powell has sprung some big leaks
Whether we are talking about draining all of its water or just most of it, reducing Lake Powell to a secondary status behind Lake Mead would fail in two of the plan’s most important goals, according to a technical assessment released last fall by Utah State University researchers.
Arizona Senator Jeff Flake tabbed to head drought-crucial Water & Power subcommittee
Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, who in July won assurances that water stored in Lake Mead would be retained by Arizona, has been named chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power.
The new chairman’s subcommittee is responsible for overseeing federal involvement in a wide swath of water matters of substantial importance to Arizona and the Southwest.
Interior Dept., Sen. Jeff Flake, agree to assuring Arizona water remains Arizona's water
As a result of a compromise agreement with Arizona U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake, the federal Interior Department has pledged that Colorado River water contributed by Arizona to the effort to stabilize Lake Mead will not be released to any other state “without the consensus of all three Lower Basin States.”
Lake Mead Water: It's not always for "fightin" over
The snarky slogan that “whiskey is for drinkin’ and water’s for fightin’” gets bandied about a lot in drought years.
Even after nearly 17 years of drought, there has not been a lot of fightin’ among the Southwestern states over the dwindling supplies of water in Lake Mead.
In fact, the level of cooperation among Arizona, Nevada and California, as well as the federal government, is a big part of why the federal Bureau of Reclamation likely will not issue a “shortfall” declaration in 2017 to protect water levels in Lake Mead.
Over the years, the Department of Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation famously use the annual December meetings of Colorado River water-users to announce big policy changes.
That didn’t happen this time at the annual Colorado River Water Users Association meetings in Las Vegas. Despite a yeoman effort to push through an agreement on a drought contingency plan among the Lower Basin states, the many moving parts of the complex “DCP” agreement did not come together before CRWUA members parted ways.
Director Buschatzke testifies before U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee
Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke testified before a Senate Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee on Tuesday, May 17, seeking Senate support for prioritizing water supplies in the drought-stricken West.
Director Buschatzke testified in support of S. 2902, which identifies five specific areas that may help defend critical water resources in the West. The measure was introduced by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and five other Western senators, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
Water Resources joins Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake on tour of threatened Lake Mead
Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake toured the Colorado River system’s drought-threatened Lake Mead area on August 31, meeting with federal and state water officials, including the Arizona Department of Water Resources.
“I was pleased to discuss with Sen. Flake the proactive response by Arizona to challenges associated with the Colorado River system,” said Water Resources Assistant Director Clint Chandler.
“Our conversation (at Hoover Dam) included references to our State’s contributions, and those of other states and Mexico, to the system."
Arizona Is Rising Up To Meet the Challenges of Falling Water Levels at Lake Mead
Last week's announcement by the Bureau of Reclamation that Lake Mead is projected at years end to be three feet above the level that would trigger reductions in water deliveries to Arizona, Nevada and Mexico was welcome news.
But we are not out of the woods.
Arizona has built a tradition of acting on its water issues well before the crisis hits. The people of Arizona have come to expect that level of preparation. We are not about to let them down.