Waters less unruly than unsettled

Back in the game for blogging! I had to take some time off to finish up the book on water rights and adjudications in New Mexico and that is now submitted to a press to be named later (don't want to count the chickens before...yeah). The book examines what we gain by tracking what water rights adjudications did to neighborly relations, in uncovering old wounds, and producing new water anxieties across the state. I'll be teasing this out over the next year or two as the book is produced and then released.

For me, it's a relief that the first submission version is done and in. It almost did me in! There is something anti-climactic about working in the field, archives, and in the literature of water for 10 years and simply hitting the "send" button on e-mail to submit. I still remember having to send physical (and multiple) copies on paper for the first book.

It's been a warm-ish winter and an unstable spring, with some unpredictable late winter-like storms on t…
It's been too long, far too long. How do I know? Because someone umm...err...let's say "borrowed" the title of my blog and would-be book. So I'm moving on to another 'trope' since a) it's been too long for me to pretend this is an active blog and b) someone moved in on this name of unruly waters. Oh well, live and learn...
At least we're having a great El NiƱo year now... to more rain. Cheers, see you downstream.

A short radio/news story on acequias of New Mexico (H2O radio)

Back in February I spoke with two lovely people behind H2O radio, Jamie and Frani. H2O radio is a new program that is focusing, surprise-surprise, on water issues. They wanted to write about the acequias of New Mexico and southern Colorado. I talked to them for a while, and then suggested many, many people they should talk to - here are the results. I hope that I have at least honored what I have learned from the people who have taught me so much since I started this work 7-8 years ago. Enjoy...

Spring updates, Hydraulic Colorado

I chose to create a thematic focus of Hydraulic Colorado, for my usual Southwest Studies 272 Nature, Region, and Society of the Southwest course. Part of the motivation was to certainly force myself to explore more of the contrasts and parallels between Colorado and New Mexico water management, law, and allocation procedures. But given that it is a writing intensive class this year, I had to find a way to keep it "local" and manageable so that drafts could be developed without struggling to write on laptops and find WiFi on the road as we usually do.

Day trips were the solution. Some visits included a stop at the Pueblo Reservoir, with the ever-helpful Colorado Springs Utilities folks (thanks Allison!) and their overview of the Southern Delivery System, you can see the outlet on the lower part of Pueblo Dam in the second photo, a new pipeline project to move CSU water rights out of the Arkansas River up to the Springs. It's a massive retro-fitting project, much like what …

My private Idaho adjudication?

For those of you who track water adjudications, one of the more interesting ones has been in Idaho. That state has nearly completed the Snake River adjudications much to everyone else's surprise. These are handled a bit differently, obviously, from the New Mexican cases I'm more familiar with, but still - there are lessons to be learned from this approach, I think. What could NM do to speed things up? Certainly the use of geotechnologies has picked up the pace of doing the technical work - but adjudication is not just a mapping problem, it's a legal challenge, and a political morass. More on this matter later, for now, here's the full story link.

2014 - another year of drought?

Grim news from the long-term NOAA forecast for New Mexico and much of the Southwest: it doesn't look good, folks. Another year of water sharing and shortages. We'll be, perhaps, luckier in Colorado only because our Fourteeners (mountains higher than 14000 ft) intercept more Pacific moisture that gives us our snowpack. But it's not likely that 2014 will snap the long-term drought plaguing New Mexico. More later, but for more on the details, see John Fleck's excellent write-up and some of the NOAA probability maps here:

September 2014: Hindsight update: ENSO kicked in at the right moments this summer of 2014 and has reverted most of the extreme drought situation in New Mexico. The recent hurricane Odile rains have also helped significantly as well, even if too much water soaked into southern New Mexico.
Another humbling reminder that forecasts can be useful, but completely wrong. Reservoir…

An unruly summer of 2013 (updated)

It's been a busy year and I have had little time to update, much less maintain, this little water blog on most-things-New Mexico-but-not-all. In the 8 months, much has changed in terms of lawsuits, roadblocks in the large adjudication cases in the state of New Mexico (like the Lower Rio Grande, aka the large dry colon serving sand, sediment, and scarcely much water into Texas). And yet, other aspects seem hauntingly familiar of 2012: fires, and the post-fire flooding across regions of Colorado and New Mexico. Let's lead with the larger context, drought and record or near-record low levels in the Colorado River and the Rio Grande. And this is Forbes magazine, mind you, talking about how to responsibly 'price' water in the Southwest.

The Lower Rio Grande adjudication is dragging one, lurching, even as the water itself (or "wet water" as engineers hilariously call it) is drying up. While some of the stream system issues are starting to look vaguely settled, the…