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Young Farmers in the Western U. S. Adapt to a Water-Scarce Future

Sipping raw, whole, grass-fed milk is a bit like tasting fine wine: a familiar experience, but much more special. That was my feeling when I drank a glass this week from De Smet Dairy in Bosque Farms, New Mexico, a small town nestled in the middle Rio Grande Valley. With his wife Erica, Mike De…

Public Helps Restore Flows to Critically Depleted Rivers

Change the Course, a water restoration movement led by National Geographic Fellow Sandra Postel, has encouraged some 70,000 people to cut their water footprint and restored 2 billion gallons of water to the Colorado River Basin. The model will be presented at this year’s Stockholm Water Symposium during World Water Week.

Colorado River Basin’s “Natural Capital” Delivers up to Half a Trillion in Annual Benefits, New Study Says

Last week I spent time around the Animas, La Plata, and San Juan Rivers in southwestern Colorado – generally the area between Pagosa Springs and Mesa Verde National Park, where the elaborate cliff-dwelling ruins of the Anasazi remind us that what we call home may not last forever. On one bright blue day pushing 90…

A Short List of Effective Actions to Conserve Water at Home

With droughts and water shortages slated to affect ever-larger portions of the United States, more and more people wonder how they can meaningfully make a difference. Lots of websites offer water-saving tips, but which actions actually conserve meaningful volumes of water?  And which offer the most conservation bang for the buck? A new study out…

Groundwater Depletion in Colorado River Basin Poses Big Risk to Water Security

Let’s step back for a minute and consider the implications of the study released last week on the depletion of groundwater in the Colorado River Basin. For anyone concerned about the future of the American West, the findings of this study – which was published online in the journal Geophysical Research Letters and conducted by…

West-Slope Colorado Towns Restore Local Flows, Even as Thirsty Front-Range Lawns Drink From their Rivers

  By Sandra Postel and Todd Reeve When residents in Denver, Colorado Springs and other cities on the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains turn on their sprinklers to irrigate lawns, they rarely think about the fate of fish in the headwaters of the Colorado River on the other side of the Continental Divide. But,…

World’s Large Cities Move Water Equivalent to Ten Colorado Rivers to Meet their Annual Water Needs

As cities grow in population and economic activity, they reach further and further out to find water to meet their needs. Now, a new study has estimated that collectively the world’s large cities, defined as those with at least 750,000 people, move 504 billion liters (133 billion gallons) of water a day a cumulative distance…

The Unsung Heroes of the Colorado River Delta Pulse Flow

This spring, the gates were opened at Morelos Dam, the furthest downstream in a string of infrastructure along the Colorado River that store and divert water to people and industries throughout the basin.  Sitting approximately 100 river miles upstream of the Sea of Cortez, Morelos Dam has been the southern terminus of the Colorado River…

A Sacred Reunion: The Colorado River Returns to the Sea

After coursing through its delta for nearly eight weeks, the fresh waters of the Colorado River have touched the high tides of the salty sea. It is the first time in sixteen years that the Colorado River, which flows 1,450 miles (2,334 kilometers) from its headwaters in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado  to the Sea…

The Colorado River Flows to the Sea

This week, the Colorado River will be reunited with the sea – a destination it hasn’t seen in many years – thanks to the “pulse flow.” Scientists monitoring the flow expect the two waters to meet sometime tomorrow, during high tide, but it’s actually possible that the river reached the sea last week, as we…

Gila River Diversion Would Be a Costly Failure

As the December deadline approaches for New Mexico to decide whether or not it will proceed with a controversial diversion of the Gila River, a former director of the state’s Interstate Stream Commission (ISC) testified on April 30 to the ISC that the proposed diversion would result in “a failed project that would produce little…

An Innovative Conservation Fund for the Colorado River

The four largest cities that get their drinking water from the Colorado River are gearing up to pilot an innovative conservation scheme that pays farmers, industries and municipalities to reduce their use of the river’s water. The main aim of the new initiative is to keep the levels of Lake Mead and Lake Powell, the…

Working Together to Change the Course

Everybody prefers a healthy, flowing river to a dried-up river channel. But in many parts of the world, including much of the western United States, it sometimes appears like we have to dry up our rivers to grow the food we need – that we can’t have productive agriculture and healthy rivers side-by-side. But, in…

Landscapes Transform With the Arrival of the Colorado River

It’s a rare event to see a river literally form before your eyes. But each day that we ventured out to find the leading edge of the Colorado River as it advanced through its delta during this historic “pulse flow,” we were treated to exactly that phenomenon: a dry, sandy channel that hasn’t seen water…

Monitoring the Pulse of the Colorado River

Now in its 14th day, the historic pulse flow coursing through the Colorado River Delta toward the sea is under the careful watch of dozens of scientists who fan out across the landscape to measure and track its vital signs – from flow rates and salinity levels to seed dispersal by native cottonwoods and willows.…