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USBR's Demand and Supply Study for the Colorado River Basin of 2012
December 12, 2012
This study is unique in that the demand side is assessed for the first time and includes the projected impacts of climate change to year 2060. As important as this far-reaching study is, the National Academy of Sciences, for example, was not asked to provide an independent review of the methodology and conclusions.
The document is tame in explaining the persistant decline in the natural flow since 1906 (trend of decline). Why it took this long for Reclamation and the states to address this known rate of decline until now, is a serious miscalculation. Worst case scenarios of reservoir levels could have been provided visually to demonstrate the seriousness of the problem to the public, but were instead presented in vague risk analysis graphics. See: Trace 21 by the Modeling Assumption Sub-group of 2011.
The study offers an assumed hope that humans might actually start to curb their consumptive behavior, that corporations will lower their greenhouse gas emissions, and planning for smart growth will somehow not become an oxymoron.
In the last century, documents were provided to Congress to assess the supply side of the Colorado River, and generous funding for grandiose engineering projects soon followed.
The documents about the hydrology were not entirely correct, and in this post-construction era the water managers now understand that drying times can last for centuries and flood magnitudes can overwhelm spillway capacities.
Generous state and federal funding will not happen in this century for solving the problem of imbalances caused by over-reaching the demand side of the equation, which includes the subsequent damage brought upon the natural water cycle, and caused by the excessive human consumption of fossil energy fuels.
If funding is somehow pulled out of a magician's hat, the administrative record indicates clearly that maximum human consumption will continue and the problem will never be solved.
The age of abundance is over, with or without adjusting to climate change, and water managers must accept the supply the basin has been given and abandon the ideology of chasing the balloons of demand.
CLICK HERE to download the combined documents of the Colorado River Basin Supply and Demand Study (1,655 pages).
Bureau of Reclamation
Attention: Ms. Pam Adams, LC-2721
P.O. Box 61470
Boulder City, NV 89006-1470
Facsimile transmission: 702-293-8418
SECURE WATER ACT
REPONSE FROM ACADEMICS
The 50-year remedies are arbitrarily under the purview of the Bureau of Reclamation, the seven states, the tribes, and selected environmental groups. Their preliminary reports are overdue.
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