The Stream, August 19, 2020: Water Levels in Colorado River Reservoirs Expected to Drop Next Year

The Global Rundown

Water levels in lakes around the Colorado River are projected to decrease. Lakes in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley continue to rise and destroy livelihoods. Researchers in New Mexico address water conservation. Recent rainfall in Mumbai could stop water cuts. The Hoopa Valley Tribal Council in northwestern California sues the U.S. Department of Interior.

“The law is clear; no Trinity water can be sent to the Central Valley at the expense of the Tribe’s ­fishery. Decades of mismanagement and misdealing have devastated the fishery and enriched the water contractors in the process.” – Hupa Tribal Attorney Thomas Schlosser. The Hoopa Valley Tribal Council filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of Interior to block U.S. water contracts with Central Valley agribusiness interests. The lawsuit claims the Interior Bureau of Reclamation’s contracts violate provisions of the Central Valley Project Improvement Act, among other laws, and that they will endanger efforts to protect Trinity River Salmon. They claim the contracts “directly impair” the Tribe’s interests in the Trinity River fish and water resources that support the Tribe’s federal rights. The Times-Standard

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By The Numbers

12.5 The number of miles that used to be between Lake Baringo and Lake Bogoria in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley. Now, the lakes are so close together they are threatening wildlife and the livelihoods of those that depend on Lake Baringo’s fresh water for drinking and farming. The flooding is said to have been caused by illegal deforestation and made worse by months of unusually heavy rain. The high waters have already ruined entire communities, drowning fisheries, hospitals and schools. Some fear that as people move away from their flooded homes onto others land, conflict could arise. BBC

40 million The number of people who depend on the Colorado River amid declining water levels. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released projections last week that suggested Lake Powell and Lake Mead, both of which contribute to water flows to cities and farms in seven states, are likely to see decreases in water levels in 2021. Surrounding states and Mexico have agreed to some voluntary water cuts to prevent the reservoirs from dropping so low that they cannot deliver water to cities and farms. Santa Fe New Mexican

In context: Remarkable Drop in Colorado River Water Use a Sign of Climate Adaptation

Science, Studies, and Reports

Researchers at New Mexico State University’s Rex E. Kirksey Agricultural Science Center at Tucumcari are addressing water conservation challenges in the semiarid climate of northeastern New Mexico. The team of researchers has recently published two studies, one evaluating the effectiveness of tillage strategies and nitrogen rates on corn yield and another on variations in plant and soil characteristics following manure application in strip-till zones of dryland farming fields. In addition to saving precious water resources, the research could mean significant cost savings and more efficiency and productivity for farmers. Las Cruces Sun News

On the Radar

Recent rainfall in Mumbai has forced the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to reconsider a 20 percent water cut that went into effect at the beginning of the month. The BMC said they are monitoring lake levels and will review the water cut by the end of the month. The seven lakes that supply Mumbai’s water have risen to 70 percent of their total capacity since August 6, when they stood at 37 percent. The levels are still far lower than they were at this time last year, when they stood at 93.15 percent. Hindustan Times

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