• Follow us

Science

Colorado River Basin states agree on ‘pain-sharing’ plan to deal with drought affecting 40 million Americans - ImaGeo

But the stop-gap measure, now before Congress, includes a provision that some regard as a major step backward Signs on the pole in this photograph show how much the land has subsided due to pumping of groundwater in Arizona’s Wilcox Basin between 1969 and 2018. (Source: Arizona Department of Water Resources.)

Signs on the pole in this photograph show how much the land has subsided due to pumping of groundwater in Arizona’s Wilcox Basin between 1969 and 2018. (Source: Arizona Department of Water Resources.)

For the 40 million people who depend on water from the Colorado River Basin, including me, there’s no escaping this stark reality: Our thirst for water exceeds what’s actually available.

That’s mostly because rising temperatures are sapping moisture from the environment even as demand for water resources in the region is going up.

The result: a run on the banks — lakes Mead and Powell, the two largest reservoirs in the basin. Collectively, they’re now just 40 percent full.

For Lake Mead, that brings it perilously close to a critical threshold: Once its surface level is expected to drop to 1,075 feet above sea level, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will declare a first-ever water shortage in the basin. This, in turn, would trigger significant mandatory cutbacks in water use imposed by the federal government.

This isn’t just an issue for people who live the in the region. That’s because the river provides for a $1.4 trillion economy — which means that what happens here in the Colorado River Basin won’t just stay in the basin.

With all of this in mind, the seven states of the basin — Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming — have been struggling to reach agreement on contingency plans. The goal is to avoid the federal government dictating from the top down what will be done once the water shortage threshold is crossed.

The efforts by the states to reach consensus have finally succeeded. And on March 19, 2019, they took a big step forward when they asked Congress to pass legislation giving them permission to put their plans — collectively bundled together into something called the “Drought Contingency Plan,” or DCP — into effect.

”It’s a remarkable achievement,” said Bruce Babbitt, former governor of Arizona and Secretary of the Interior from 1993 to 2001, speaking at a workshop on water issues I’m attending in Phoenix. “It’s a pain-sharing agreement.”

Through the overall Drought Contingency Plan, the seven states have agreed on ways to share the pain of cutting back their use of Colorado River water should that become necessary — as it almost certainly will in the next year or so.

Babbitt’s own state of Arizona will take the biggest cut under the plan. To help salve the pain, the state is planning to do something that has generated quite a lot of controversy: pump more water from underground aquifers to allow farmers who would otherwise be cut off from irrigation water to continue growing crops in the desert.

More specifically, Arizona’s complex plan will provide at least $9 million to irrigation districts to enable them to drill new wells and related infrastructure. This would help them to eliminate their use of water from the Colorado River and rely instead on groundwater for irrigating crops.

If that sounds good, consider Babbitt’s reaction: “Interest groups reverted to Arizona style: ‘We’re not going to give up anything — we want even more,’” Babbitt said.

This panorama showing nearly the full length of Lake Powell in southern Utah and northern Arizona was photographed by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station, on Sept. 6, 2016. The station was north of the lake at the time, so south is at the top left of the image. (Source: NASA Earth Observatory)

This panorama showing nearly the full length of Lake Powell in southern Utah and northern Arizona was photographed by an astronaut aboard the International Space Station, on Sept. 6, 2016. The station was north of the lake at the time, so south is at the top left of the image. (Source: NASA Earth Observatory)

Arizona’s plan is ultimately a stopgap measure to deal with the overarching problem of living beyond the hydrological budget in this part of the world. Instead of balancing that budget, “we’re going back to pumping ground water,” Babbitt lamented.

In the long run, that’s not sustainable. Aquifers are another kind of hydrological savings bank — and withdrawals can very easily exceed deposits.

One result is illustrated in the photo at the top of this post. It shows just how much the land has dropped as a result of groundwater being pumped out of the underground aquifer in one area of Arizona.

That view from the ground dramatizes the degree of subsidence in a way that we can very easily grasp. But it doesn’t reveal the sheer scale of the issue. For that, satellite imagery is ideal.

A satellite-based radar system was used to produced this “interferogram” showing subsidence of land in Arizona’s McMullen Basin due to pumping of groundwater for agriculture. (Source: NASA)

A satellite-based radar system was used to produced this “interferogram” showing subsidence of land in Arizona’s 650-square-mile McMullen Basin due to pumping of groundwater for agriculture. (Source: NASA)

This graphic, called an “interferogram,” provides a broad perspective on subsiding land from groundwater pumping. It was produced by a satellite system that beams radar signals to earth and measures the bounce-back signals to determine how the land may have moved, up or down.

The psychedelic fringes in the image reveal areas where land has subsided in Arizona’s McMullen Valley, an area larger than the City of Los Angeles, between April 2010 and May 2015. In some places, the land has dropped by as much as 10 feet during this five year period.

Over the longer term, subsidence has been even more jaw-dropping, with drops approaching 300 feet since the early 1940s!

Seeing the impact of ground-water withdrawals, Arizona enacted a landmark law in 1980 – when Babbitt was governor — called the Groundwater Management Act. “At the time it was the most comprehensive such act,” said Jim Holway, Director of the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy. “It was regulatory, which was a big leap for Arizona.”

The overall purpose: push the state toward sustainable use of groundwater over the long term. But it established different goals in different areas. In Pinal County, one of Arizona’s major agricultural regions, the primary management goal was to preserve the farming economy, leaving more room for pumping groundwater than in other management areas.

Now, Arizona’s state-level drought contingency plan will encourage more groundwater pumping for irrigation in that county — arguably a step backward for a state that once tried to lead the way along a more sustainable path.

The Arizona plan “abandons some of our commitments to limit groundwater pumping,” said Sandy Bahr, director of the Grand Canyon Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Not only does it allow more pumping but we’re also going to pay for it,” she noted, referring to taxpayers.

Bahr points out that Arizona farmers commonly plant very thirsty crops like alfalfa and cotton. Switching to less water-intensive crops could help, yet the plan failed to address this issue.

“The history of Arizona water is to really rob Peter to pay Paul,” she said.

Pain sharing

Agriculture and suburban sprawl on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo: © Tom Yulsman)

But Clint Chandler, Assistant Director of the Arizona Department of Water Resources, points out that given all the competing interests in the state, reaching consensus on the plan was a major achievement. “The groundwater piece is part of a big bundle, a compromise,” he said. “We wanted an agreement that could withstand scrutiny of the Arizona legislature.”

Arizona was, in fact, the only state among the seven that had to get its drought contingency plan approved by the legislature.

“Overall it is a very commendable thing that Arizona accomplished,” Chandler said. “It is a big deal.”

Ultimately, thought, the plan merely kicks the can down the road, temporarily forestalling the day when the imbalance in the region’s water budget causes even more pain.

“We all live on budgets,” noted Stu Feinglas, the now retired Water Resources Specialist for the City of Westminster, Colorado. “If we don’t take an active part in managing these budgets, they will resolve on their own.”

Read More



Leave A Comment

More News

All DiscoverMagazine.com

The Event Horizon Telescope May Soon Release First-Ever 2019-04-01 18:30:16No, you can’t actually take a picture of a black hole. But astronomers have promised to do the next best thing: To image the seething chaos just

Dark Matter is Real. "Dark Matter" is a 2019-04-01 14:18:40Astronomers have been grappling with the mystery of dark matter for a long time, and I mean a looong time. The history of dark-matter investigations g

The Grandmother Hypothesis Could Explain Why Women Live 2019-04-01 14:00:08From an evolutionary perspective, the point of life is to procreate and pass on genes. That’s why most animals keep reproducing until their deat

Astronomers Discover a Second Galaxy Without Dark Matter 2019-04-01 13:00:03One year ago, astronomers announced their surprise discovery a galaxy almost entirely devoid of dark matter. As the first galaxy ever f

Astronomers Finally Confirm Methane on Mars 2019-04-01 12:25:58Researchers have independently confirmed, for the first time, the detection of methane on Mars. For fifteen years, various research groups have claime

Science Uncovers the Secrets of Tennessee Whiskey 2019-04-01 11:30:32Champagne is only champagne if it’s made in its namesake region in France, Scotch is exclusively distilled and matured in Scotland, and a &ldquo

There's a Ticking Time Bomb in the Constellation 2019-03-31 21:52:52I'm a longtime fan of cosmic disaster scenarios. Not because I'm particularly gloomy (according to my friends and family, I'm actually more of a go

Colorado River Basin states agree on ‘pain-sharing’ plan 2019-03-30 14:47:34But the stop-gap measure, now before Congress, includes a provision that some regard as a major step backward For the 40 million people who depend o

Book Review: Building a Foundation in Environmental Citizen 2019-03-29 20:03:29Dickinson, Janis L. & Bonney, Rick. (eds). Citizen Science: Public Participation in Environmental Research. Cornell University Press, 2012. 279 pa

Here's What Scientists Hope to Learn as LIGO 2019-03-29 17:09:40After a year of downtime to perform hardware upgrades, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is ready for action and will tur

Hunting Cosmic Fireworks in the Magellanic Clouds 2019-03-29 16:45:23The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) are two of the most stunning naked-eye sights you can spot i

The Case for Trident: NASA's Shrinking Window for 2019-03-29 16:15:06The last and only time astronomers got a close look at Neptune’s moon Triton was in 1989, when Voyager 2 sped by, taking images of just one side

Breaking Science News |

Researchers Create and Test New Kind of Airplane 2019-04-01 11:15:55Assembled from hundreds of tiny identical pieces, the new wing can change shape to control the plane’s flight. The wing design was tested in NAS

Researchers Find Coin-Sized Frogs in Madagascar 2019-04-01 09:33:05An international team led by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München scientist Mark Scherz has described a new genus and five new species of

Hubble Sees Globular Cluster Messier 2 2019-04-01 08:18:00NASA has released a stunning image snapped by the agency’s Hubble Space Telescope of the globular cluster Messier 2. Globular clusters are spher

Pacific Mastodon: New Species of Ancient Elephant Relative 2019-04-01 07:08:01A new species of mastodon that lived during the Pleistocene period has been identified from fossil found in California and Idaho. Mastodons are any sp

Just Looking at Things that Remind Us of 2019-04-01 04:21:10Coffee and tea are two beverages commonly-consumed around the world. In Western societies, coffee is associated with greater arousal than tea. Accordi

Study Finds Link between Air Pollution and Adolescent 2019-03-29 15:00:03A new study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, provides a potential explanation for why growing up in urban settings is a risk factor for psyc

Saturn’s Rings Coat Its Small Inner Moons, Cassini 2019-03-29 13:10:13Saturn’s main ring system is associated with a set of moons (Pan, Daphnis, Atlas, Pandora, and Epimetheus) that are either embedded within it, o

Hot-Saturn Exoplanet Discovered by TESS, Characterized Using Asteroseismology 2019-03-29 12:14:51Astronomers using NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) have discovered a massive gaseous exoplanet orbiting a subgiant star calle

Cream-Eyed Bulbul: New Species of Bird Discovered 2019-03-29 09:39:34An international team of ornithologists led by Louisiana State University researchers has discovered a cryptic new species of bulbul in the Malaysian

Scientists Find Cyanobacterial Neurotoxin and Amyloid Plaques in 2019-03-29 08:06:46High levels of BMAA (β-methylamino-L-alanine), a neurotoxin produced by cyanobacterial blooms, and beta-amyloid plaques, a hallmark in human bein

Hubble Spots Multi-Tailed Active Asteroid 2019-03-28 16:41:26Astronomers once thought asteroids were boring, wayward space rocks that simply orbit around the Sun. But recent observations show that asteroids are

GRAVITY Reveals Details of Storm-Wracked HR 8799e using 2019-03-28 12:21:12ESO’s GRAVITY instrument, a second generation imaging instrument installed on the Very Large Telescope Interferometer, has made the first direct

Latest Headlines | Science

A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies 2019-04-02 07:00:05Human gene editing needs responsible regulation, but a ban isn’t the way to go, says Nobel laureate David Baltimore.

Pumping may be linked to an altered microbial 2019-04-01 14:33:47Beneficial bacteria are more abundant in the milk of mothers whose babies feed straight from the breast.

The LIGO and Virgo gravitational wave detectors are 2019-04-01 11:22:10Souped-up instruments could spot never-before-seen sources of gravitational waves.

In ‘The Perfect Predator,’ viruses vanquish a deadly 2019-04-01 09:00:04In ‘The Perfect Predator,’ an epidemiologist recounts the battle to save her husband from an antibiotic-resistant infection.

A new quantum engine packs more power than 2019-04-01 07:00:04A new type of tiny machine harnesses quantum physics to produce more power than a normal engine, under certain conditions.

A single-dose antidote may help prevent fentanyl overdoses 2019-03-31 05:00:04Packing overdose medication into nanoparticles could help it better counteract dangerous synthetic opioids.

Watch a desert kangaroo rat drop-kick a rattlesnake 2019-03-29 13:54:11Desert kangaroo rats have a wide arsenal for dodging rattlesnake ambushes. But the most dramatic might be their powerful midair kick.

The first known fossil of a Denisovan skull 2019-03-29 11:01:02A new fossil and evidence that the hominids interbred with humans as recently as 15,000 years ago only add to Denisovans’ mystery.

4 things we’ll learn from the first closeup 2019-03-29 09:58:44Scientists are gearing up to release the first image of the black hole at the center of the galaxy. Here’s what they hope to find out.

One Antarctic ice shelf gets half its annual 2019-03-29 07:00:04Antarctica’s coasts get most of their snow from just a few big storms each year.

Saturn’s rings paint some of its moons shades 2019-03-28 14:00:04Moons located among Saturn’s inner rings are different colors depending on their distance from the planet, suggesting they’re picking up r

Chytrid’s frog-killing toll has been tallied — and 2019-03-28 14:00:04Losses due to the amphibian-killing chytrid fungus are “the greatest documented loss of biodiversity attributable to a pathogen,” research

Latest Science News --

Globally, one in five deaths are associated with 2019-04-03 19:37:02People in almost every region of the world could benefit from rebalancing their diets to eat optimal amounts of various foods and nutrients, according

Somatic symptom disorder linked to changes in brain 2019-04-03 16:58:36Alterations in functional connectivity of the brain may help in understanding the neurobiological changes leading to somatic symptom disorder (SSD), r

Patent-pending probiotic could disrupt Crohn's disease biofilms 2019-04-03 16:58:34Probiotics typically aim to rebalance bacteria populations in the gut, but new research suggests they may also help break apart stubborn biofilms. Bio

Scientists pioneer new low-temperature chemical conversion process 2019-04-03 16:58:31Chemists have identified a way to convert cyclohexane to cyclohexene or cyclohexadiene, important chemicals in a wide range of industrial processes.

Spider monkeys lower their 'whinnies' when making long-distance 2019-04-03 15:54:55Isolated spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) likely lower the pitch of their calls to improve the chances of re-establishing contact with their group, a

Study illuminates the brain's inner workings 2019-04-03 15:54:46Like instruments in an orchestra, different parts of the human brain work together to help us perform the functions of daily life, ranging from breath

Human history through tree rings: Trees in Amazonia 2019-04-03 15:54:43The Brazil nut tree (Bertholletia excelsa) is well known around the world today and has been an important part of human subsistence strategies in the

Sunscreen application has better face coverage than SPF 2019-04-03 15:54:41Application of sun protection factor (SPF) moisturizers tends to miss more of the face, especially around the eyelid regions, compared with sunscreen

More CO2 than ever before in 3 million 2019-04-03 15:54:36CO2 levels in the atmosphere are likely higher today than ever before in the past 3 million years. During this time, global mean temperatures never ex

New family of glass good for lenses 2019-04-03 15:54:32A new composition of germanosilicate glass created by adding zinc oxide has properties good for lens applications, according to researchers. This mark

The future of agriculture is computerized 2019-04-03 15:54:08Researchers have used computer algorithms to determine the optimal growing conditions to improve basil plants' taste by maximizing the concentration

How understanding animal behavior can support wildlife conservation 2019-04-03 15:54:06Researchers have developed a model that uses data from sensors worn by meerkats to gain a more detailed picture of how animals behave in the wild.

Science - The Huffington

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Defiantly Promises A Green New Deal 2019-03-29 20:07:12At an MSNBC town hall, the freshman congresswoman vowed to build a base strong enough to challenge the "market fundamentalists."

Kangaroo Rat Thwarts Rattlesnake Attack In Jaw-Dropping Fight 2019-03-29 16:46:58New videos show kangaroo rats doing moves straight out of "The Matrix."

Woman Gives Birth To Twins 1 Month After 2019-03-28 16:17:52The 20-year-old Bangladeshi mother didn't realize she was still pregnant — and had two uteruses.

Calling Women 'Hysterical' Has Set Our Treatment Back 2019-03-28 13:20:59“Hysteria” symptoms sound an awful lot like endometriosis, one of the most common gynecological diseases in women.

This Surgery Saves Lives For Stroke Patients, But 2019-03-27 16:10:45Only roughly half of states are working to change their EMS rules to ensure the most-critical patients get a thrombectomy as quickly as possible.

Republican Efforts To Counter Green New Deal Show 2019-03-27 16:01:16The Green New Deal resolution drama aside, two GOP lawmakers are pushing proposals that abandon the party's outright climate change denial.

Here’s How The 2020 Candidates Rate On Climate 2019-03-27 08:50:32Climate change is expected to be a major issue among Democrats in 2020 as the White House continues its anti-environmental agenda.

Democrats Point To Midwest Flood Victims To Counter 2019-03-26 15:08:07As Republicans force a hasty Senate vote on the climate change plan, presidential candidates push to take it seriously.

Hillary Clinton Fires Off Response To NASA’s Female 2019-03-26 14:11:45She *is* a suit expert, after all.

Duke Agrees To Pay $112 Million After Being 2019-03-25 16:38:52Over 12 years, the university submitted falsified or fabricated data for federal money, authorities said.

NASA Captured Images Of A Giant Meteor Explosion 2019-03-25 11:44:07The "fireball," which exploded over the Bering Sea last December, was the most powerful meteor scientists have tracked since 2013.

Sun Bears Can Mimic Facial Expressions The Same 2019-03-23 12:01:40Researchers found sun bears have an ability observed in only a handful of creatures.

EurekAlert! - Breaking News

Difficulty hearing may keep older patients from participating 2019-04-03 00:00:00In a Journal of the American Geriatrics Society study of 13,940 adults age 65 years and older, nearly half reported difficulty hearing, and those repo

Doing more with less in the study of 2019-04-03 00:00:00Current techniques to assess plant chemical defense require large amounts of both time and plant tissue. Researchers have developed a new, high-throug

Discrimination may affect adolescents' sleep quality 2019-04-03 00:00:00In a Child Development study of daily diary descriptions of discrimination by minority adolescents, experiencing discrimination during the day was ass

Stress in childhood and adulthood have combined impact 2019-04-03 00:00:00Adults who report high levels of stress and who also had stressful childhoods are most likely to show hormone patterns associated with negative health

Study identifies gender differences in reported adverse drug 2019-04-03 00:00:00In a British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology study, investigators uncovered numerous gender differences in reports of adverse drug reactions sent to

Gene levels could help predict prognosis for colorectal 2019-04-03 00:00:00Levels of a gene that helps the immune system differentiate the good cells from the bad could be a good indicator of prognosis in people with colorect

Inflammatory arthritis may negatively affect intimate relationships and 2019-04-03 00:00:00A systematic review and analysis of published studies found consistent links between inflammatory arthritis and impacts on intimacy and sexual functio

Fungal mating: Next weapon against corn aflatoxin? 2019-04-03 00:00:00Native fungi combinations show promise against aflatoxin.

Sleeping pill use linked to greater need for 2019-04-03 00:00:00In a Geriatrics & Gerontology International study of 752 older adults with hypertension followed from 2008-2010 through 2012-2013, using sleeping

Counselors may find that focusing on the human-nature 2019-04-03 00:00:00The concept of 'ecowellness' encompasses a sense of appreciation, respect, and awe of nature that can contribute to holistic wellness. A new study d

New insights on liver injury in men taking 2019-04-03 00:00:00In a study reported in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 44 men with liver injury, attributed to over-the-counter bodybuilding supplements,

Anti-inflammatory plant-based diet helps reduce gingivitis 2019-04-03 00:00:00A plant-based whole food diet reduced gingivitis in a recent randomized trial published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology.

Les dernières actualités

La Mini électrique Cooper SE est disponible en 2019-04-03 12:30:00Mini a ouvert en France les précommandes pour son futur modèle électrique qui devrait arriver début 2020.

Citoyens de la Terre, faites résonner le 2019-04-03 11:47:40Vous rêvez d'envoyer un message audio sur Mars ? Vous avez jusqu'au 20 avril pour tenter votre chance au concours ouvert aux « citoyens

La chirurgie moléculaire non invasive et sans cicatrice 2019-04-03 11:30:00Lorsqu’il s’agit de remodeler un nez, par exemple, la chirurgie traditionnelle recourt au scalpel. Mais des chercheurs envisagent aujourd&

Mars : la présence de méthane dans son 2019-04-03 10:30:00Le 15 juin 2013, le rover Curiosity détectait un pic d’émissions de méthane sur le site du cratère Gale où il

Voici le clavier anti-fautes d'orthographe ! 2019-04-03 09:30:00Après quatre ans d'études, l'Afnor a rendu ses conclusions et propose deux nouvelles normes pour faciliter l'usage du français

Les étoiles doubles reflètent la lumière de leur 2019-04-03 08:30:00La plupart des étoiles de notre Univers sont supposées avoir des compagnes. Et des chercheurs australiens nous apprennent aujourd’

Le premier génome bactérien créé par ordinateur 2019-04-03 07:30:00Des chercheurs de l’école polytechnique de Zurich ont réécrit informatiquement le génome d’une bactérie

La production industrielle de saumon OGM autorisée au 2019-04-03 07:03:32Le gouvernement canadien a autorisé la production commerciale d'un premier saumon génétiquement modifié destiné &a

La Nasa promet la Lune dans 5 ans 2019-04-03 06:15:42Probablement secoué par la mise au point du président Trump, Jim Bridenstine, l’administrateur de la Nasa, vient de confirmer que

100% d'énergies renouvelables dans le monde, c'est possible 2019-04-03 05:30:00Les capacités en éolien et en solaire montent en flèche dans le monde. Mais, sans moyen de stockage sûr, nous sommes condam

La Nasa et le MIT développent un avion 2019-04-03 04:25:10Des scientifiques du MIT ont mis au point avec l’aide de la Nasa une aile volante dont la structure légère et robuste peut se d&ea

Des astronautes découvrent une nouvelle espèce de crustacé 2019-04-03 04:24:45Durant une expédition dans le système de grottes de Supramonte en Sardaigne en 2012, des astronautes en entraînement ont collect&e


Disclaimer and Notice:WorldProNews.com is not responsible of these news or any information published on this website.