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Tag archives for Change the Course

Let’s Change our Water Story

Our human story has always been a water story. The earliest civilizations developed and grew along rivers – from the Tigris and Euphrates in the Middle East, to the Nile in Egypt, to the Yellow River in China. Rivers have been the lifelines for the growth and evolution of societies, providing the essentials of food,…

Climate Change Poses Existential Water Risks

We often hear it said that climate change is too abstract to win the support needed to effectively combat it. But the primary way we will experience climate change is through the water cycle – through droughts, floods, depleted rivers, shrinking reservoirs, dried-out soils, melting glaciers, loss of snowpack and overall shortages of water to…

Love Water for Chocolate

As Valentine’s Day approaches, no doubt many of us have chocolate on our minds and taste buds. Delicious, dark, tempting chocolate that, eaten in moderation, may even be good for us. As we’ve learned in recent years, the cocoa beans that give chocolate its main ingredient contain flavanols, which scientists have discovered may reduce the…

A Year Without the Colorado River, as Seen by Economists

Imagine if each tap that delivered water from the Colorado River – whether to a farm, a factory, or a home – suddenly went dry for a year. What would happen to the West’s economy? That’s pretty much the question a team of researchers at Arizona State University set out to answer – and the…

VIDEO: The Colorado River Reaches the Sea and Brings Life to Its Delta

In the list of conservation success stories of 2014, the return of flow to the once-verdant Colorado Delta ranks high. The spring pulse flow made possible by Minute 319, the groundbreaking agreement signed in late 2012 by the US and Mexico, brought the Colorado River to the Sea of Cortez for the first time in…

With Water, Life Returns to the Colorado River Delta

Last spring, on the eighth day of the release of Colorado River water into its channel at the US-Mexico border – an event known as the “pulse flow” – I witnessed something extraordinary. Like most mornings, I headed out with my National Geographic team before dawn to find the leading edge of the river as…

A Diversion of the Gila River Would be Wasteful, Harmful and a Big Mistake

By the end of the year, New Mexico must notify the U.S. Secretary of Interior whether it will pursue the construction of a diversion project on the Gila River in the southwestern corner of the state. New Mexico’s Interstate Stream Commission decided last week to recommend that the state pursue the diversion. But Governor Susana…

A Watershed Moment for Los Angeles

The timing might seem odd, even self-destructive. Last month, in the midst of one of the most severe droughts in California’s historical record, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued an executive order calling for his southern California city to cut its water imports by half within a decade. Water transferred hundreds of miles from northern…

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…