water rights

Trump signs memorandum diverting more water to California farmers

President Trump on Wednesday signed a memorandum directing more of California’s scarce water supply to farmers and other agriculture interests in the state’s Central Valley, a Republican stronghold. Speaking alongside House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy in the lawmaker’s hometown of Bakersfield, Trump boasted of how his administration reworked environmental rules to assure more water gets to farmers, while also taking shots at his political rivals – from California Gov. Gavin Newsom to Democratic presidential primary hopeful and former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. “For too long water authorities have flushed millions of gallons into the Pacific,” Trump said. “I ordered the administration to update outdated opinions which determined water allocation in this state.” Trump added that he is going “to put a lot of pressure” on Newsom to enact the changes and if the California governor doesn’t follow through then “you’ll get a new governor.” Trump has long criticized the environmental rules governing the flow of water in California – calling the rules “insane” during a campaign stop in 2016 and pledging that he’d be “opening up the water” for farmers. The environmental rules are meant to ensure that enough water stayed in rivers and the San Francisco Bay to sustain more than a dozen endangered fish and other native species, which are struggling as agriculture and development diverts more water and land from wildlife. Environmental advocates and the state say the changes will allow federal authorities to pump more water from California’s wetter north southward to its biggest cities and farms. The Trump administration, Republican lawmakers and farm and water agencies say the changes will allow for more flexibility in water deliveries. In California’s heavily engineered water system, giant state and federal water projects made up of hundreds of miles of pipes, canals, pumps and dams, carry runoff from rain and Sierra Nevada snow melt from north to south — and serve as field of battle for lawsuits and regional political fights over competing demands for water. Environmental groups say the changes will speed the disappearance of endangered winter-run salmon and other native fish and make life tougher for whales and other creatures in the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean. After an initial study by federal scientists found the rule changes would harm salmon and whales, the Trump administration ordered a new round of review, California news organizations reported last year. The overall effort “ensured the highest quality” of evaluation of the rule changes, Paul Souza, Pacific Southwest director for the Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a statement Tuesday. “We strongly disagree that the proposal will reduce protections for endangered species,” Souza said. Beyond operational changes in the federal Central Valley Project water system, the administration’s changes allow for more habitat restoration, upgrades in fish hatcheries and the water system itself, monitoring of species and other improvements, Souza said.

While we do not know the specifics, it appears that this decision was made after much thought and consideration.  California is controlled by the Democrat party in Sacramento with a supermajority / veto-proof majority in the state legislature and a VERY liberal Democrat governor who are all beholden to the extreme enviro-wakos there.  And, the state is so far in debt that it’s on the verge of bankruptcy.  So, it’s more than reasonable to assume that a little pushback by Trump for the benefit of those poor farmers trying to feed all of us is probably a good thing.  Of course we’ll continue to monitor this developing story and report any more details we hear about.

Project to divert water from Colorado River tributary to NM raises concerns

A multi-million dollar effort to divert water from a Colorado River tributary into southwest New Mexico is raising concerns, with some reports putting the cost at $1 billion and critics saying it offers far fewer benefits than expected. Supporters point out that a 1964 Supreme Court ruling entitles New Mexico to the water, which ultimately flows into neighboring Arizona, and that the water is needed for agriculture, drinking and other essential needs. Critics argue it would be far too costly, that diverting the water could cause environmental problems and that the river is rarely high enough to divert water. They largely cite state and federal reports including one in July 2014 by the Interior Department that found “estimated costs exceed estimated benefits” in the dozens of submitted proposals. “New Mexico should not use any more federal funds on this … over-budget, ineffective diversion project,” the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, or POGO, concluded after reviewing the reports. The state informed the Interior Department in November 2014, just weeks before the deadline to get federal money for the project, that it was going forward with the effort. The agency’s Bureau of Reclamation says such an effort, which would include one or more dams, will cost $762 million to $775 million. The Interstate Stream Commission, a lead state agency on the project, has not returned several requests for information, specifically cost estimates. State lawmakers also appear concerned about escalating costs and sticking taxpayers with the bill, despite supporters of the project insisting they will find private revenue sources. “It won’t be just $1 billion,” state Democratic Rep. Bill McCamley said at a Sept. 1 meeting on the issue. Darr Shannon, a member of the Central Arizona Project New Mexico Unit, the quasi-government group helping lead the diversion effort, said at the meeting that she and others would find the private money.

Water rights issues are hot topics in AZ, NM, and here in CO.  So, we’ll definitely keep an eye on this..  To read the rest of this article, click on the text above.

Shrinking Colorado River is a growing concern for Yuma farmers – and millions of water users

The Colorado River begins as snowmelt in the Rocky Mountains and ends 1,450 miles south in Mexico after making a final sacrifice to the United States: water for the farm fields in this powerhouse of American produce. Throughout the winter, perfect heads of romaine, red-and-green lettuce, spinach and broccoli are whisked from the warm desert soil here onto refrigerated trucks that deliver them to grocery stores across the continent. If you eat a green salad between Thanksgiving and April, whether in Minnesota, Montreal or Modesto, odds are good that some of it was grown in or around Yuma. The summer freshness on all of those winter plates reflects the marvel of engineering the Colorado has become — and why managing the river in the Southwest’s changing landscape seems so daunting. The Colorado is suffering from a historic drought that has exposed the region’s dependence on a single, vulnerable resource. Nearly 40 million people in seven states depend on the river, a population some forecasts say could nearly double in the next 50 years. The drought, now in its 16th year, has made one fact brutally clear: The Colorado cannot continue to meet the current urban, agricultural, hydroelectric and recreational demands on it — and the point at which the river will fall short could come sooner than anyone thought. That is true even after an unusually wet spring in the Rocky Mountains, where runoff feeds the Colorado and its tributaries. In the decades to come, federal officials say, significant shortages are likely to force water-supply cutbacks in parts of the basin, the first in the more than 90 years that the river has been managed under the 1922 Colorado River Compact. They would not apply evenly. In Arizona, which would take the steepest cuts, officials are warning that the elaborate conservation measures and infrastructure put in place in the 1980s to guard against shortages will probably not be sufficient. As the drought continues, serious shortages and more severe cutbacks have become more likely. Farmers who grow cattle feed and cotton in central Arizona could be forced to let fields lie fallow, maybe for good, and cities like Phoenix might have to begin reusing wastewater and even capping urban growth, the region’s economic engine.

With future uncertain, Colorado shields its water

With demand increasing across the West, Colorado is drawing up a strategy to keep some of the trillions of gallons of water that gushes out of the Rocky Mountains every spring — most of which flows downstream to drought-stricken California, Arizona, Nevada and Mexico.

Out here in Colorado, water rights is a HUGE issue…