More Need Than Ever for Drought Resilience on the Colorado River

The effects of climate change are already cutting deeply into the lifeblood of the U.S. West—the Colorado River.

April 27, 2021, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Colorado River

oceanfishing / Shutterstock

Ian James reports on the state of the Colorado River after more than two decades of scientists have decided is a "megadrought." The water level of Lake Mead has fallen 130 feet since 2000, and the reservoir is at 39 percent of capacity. The reservoir will soon have less water than any time since the Hoover Dam started filling the lake in the 1930s.

"The latest projections from the federal government show the reservoir will soon fall more feet to cross the trigger point for a shortage in 2022, forcing the largest mandatory water cutbacks yet in Arizona, Nevada and Mexico," reports James The lack of rainfall throughout the West and a meager snowpack in the Rocky Mountains could cause even more severe shortages and water supply cuts the next year, too, according to James.

James has more frightening details to share:

While the Southwest has always cycled through wet and dry periods, some scientists suggest the word "drought" is no longer entirely adequate and that the Colorado River watershed is undergoing “aridification” driven by human-caused warming — a long-term trend of more intense dry spells that’s here for good and will complicate water management for generations to come.

The article also includes coverage of the ongoing efforts to manage the Colorado River as it changes due to climate change, including the  Drought Contingency Plan (DCP), signed by seven states along the river in 2019. "Arizona and Nevada agreed to take the first cuts to help prop up Lake Mead, while California agreed to participate at lower shortage levels if the reservoir continues to drop," reports James. Arizona is in line for the largest cuts under the DCP.

The Biden administration also recently announced an interagency working group to support farmers, tribes, and other communities most impacted by water shortages.

Technology is also being deployed in the effort, reports James, including the use of artificial intelligence for scenario planning in the Colorado River Basin, led by Laura Condon, an assistant professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona.

Friday, April 23, 2021 in Arizona Republic

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

Single-Family Housing Construction

New White House Housing Initiative Includes Zoning Reform Incentives

The Biden administration this morning released a new program of actions intended to spur housing construction around the United States.

May 16, 2022 - The White House

San Francisco Houses

‘Mega-Landlords’ Threaten Housing Stability for Renters

As institutional investors buy up a larger share of single-family homes, the families renting them are increasingly vulnerable to rent increases and eviction.

May 15, 2022 - The Hill

Puente Hills Landfill as seen from the air

More Funds to Transform the Puente Hills Landfill into a Regional Park

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors just approved an additional $28 million to support the development of the Puente Hills Regional Park at the landfill site.

May 23 - Supervisor Hilda Solis

Denver, Colorado

Denver Freeway Widening Plans on Hold

The Colorado Department of Transportation’s plan to widen the Interstate 25 freeway through Denver is one of a few plans to widen urban freeways under consideration in the United States.

May 23 - The Colorado Sun

Fringe Development

Public Perceptions of Sprawl and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Urban density has a bad reputation.

May 23 - Greater Greater Washington

HUD’s 2022 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Expanding HUD’s Eviction Protection Grant Program

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.