You are here: home   Blogs   The GOAT Blog   The River Dry
The GOAT Blog

The River Dry

Document Actions
Tip Jar Donation

Your donation supports independent non-profit journalism from High Country News.

Jodi Peterson | Sep 01, 2009 03:46 PM

If we keep sucking down Colorado River water the way we have been (likely), and if climate change reduces the amount of water in the system (also likely) there's a fifty-fifty chance that the system's reservoirs will hit bottom by the middle of this century. That's the stark conclusion of a new study released in July by the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Other river researchers say that a 1 degree Celsius increase in average temperature will translate to a 5 percent drop in annual water discharge from the Upper Basin, which produces the vast majority of the system's water. But even small attempts at conservation could have big impacts.  A 6 percent reduction in current demand results in a 37 percent reduction in the risk that the reservoirs will dry up. (For more background on the Colorado River, see our stories "A tug of war on a tightrope", "Arizona returns to the desert", "What's worse than the worst-case scenario? Real life" and "How low will it go?".)

"Water managers are used to engineering solutions," says CU-Boulder scientist Doug Kenney, "but we've hit the limits there. Now we need political solutions and reallocation of water rights." But even that may not be enough, as witnessed by what's happening in Australia's Murray-Darling Basin.


Email Newsletter

The West in your Inbox

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Follow our RSS feeds!
  1. Idaho’s sewer system is the Snake River | As Big Ag flourishes, this massive waterway suffer...
  2. Closure of federal sheep facility would be a victory for grizzlies |
  3. The Latest: Wild Mexican wolf pups born in Sierra Madre | The species still struggles on both sides of the b...
  4. Summer swimming in a Washington lake | A writer takes the plunge in frigid water.
  5. Colorado water users gird for first statewide plan |
  1. The death of backpacking? | Younger people don’t seem interested in this out...
  2. Idaho’s sewer system is the Snake River | As Big Ag flourishes, this massive waterway suffer...
  3. A graceful gazelle becomes a pest | Inrroducing an African gazelle called the oryx for...
  4. Illegal immigrants take jobs from Americans | A native-born New Mexico Hispanic points out that ...
  5. Plains sense | Ten years after Frank and Deborah Popper first pro...
More from Water
How much does a great monsoon season relieve drought?
How much water goes into your food? Growing everyday food items requires a surprising amount of water.
Idaho’s sewer system is the Snake River As Big Ag flourishes, this massive waterway suffers.
All Water
© 2014 High Country News, all rights reserved. | privacy policy | terms of use | powered by Plone