High good, low bad: Mead in December 2012

A new Colorado River study highlights the need for conservation while Interior has just rubber-stamped a massive groundwater exploitation project in rural Nevada and similar projects are planned across the dry West.

Vegas case for water surveyed

Ladies and gentlemen, prepare your reading glasses. Today the Bureau of Land Management is expected to publish a long-delayed draft environmental impact statement scrutinizing the impact to federal land of a proposed Las Vegas pipeline into the Great Basin. Long pipe (306 miles), long document (it’s expected to run more than 1,200 pages). An extended comment period of 90 days is expected. Click here for background, here for a link to the federal register. The comment period will start the day that a notice of publication of the EIS appears in the register.

Shortly after the federal comment period ends over access to public land for the Vegas pipeline, Nevada’s State Engineer will begin omnibus hearings to decide whether or not to award water to fill it. Previous awards by the former state engineer were thrown out by two courts, citing due process violations and unsound assessments of available groundwater

Pass the buffalo

The president intimated Tuesday that the Department of Interior may be in for some cuts, however  Interior Secretary Ken Salazar followed up yesterday with a shadow state of the union address for staff. Click here for the text. Included in the oratory is a pledge to “increase available water supply for agricultural, municipal, industrial, and environmental uses in the western United States by 490,000 acre feet through Reclamation’s conservation-related programs.”  Also on the promise list is increasing capacity for renewable energy on public lands, while at the same time ensuring complete environmental review. How the latter can be assured without the environmental reviews being a sham is unclear. Via the Great Basin Water Network.

Glen Canyon Dam and the pill from MIT

This one is strictly for water wonks. Now that I’ve cleared the room, Richard Spotts of the Great Basin Water Network alerted me to this paper from the Columbia Journal of Environmental Law. “Collaborative Planning and Adaptive Management in Glen Canyon: A Cautionary Tale” looks at the impact of changing environmental regulation on the operations of the second largest dam on the Colorado River. It then wades through the on-going efforts to resolve the succession of shit storms that followed the 1956 construction of Glen Canyon Dam.

The authors, two from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the third from the University of California, Irvine write, “The Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program should not be considered a success because it has failed to address effectively the concerns that led to its creation in the first place, including:  (1) developing a stakeholder-supported operating plan responsive to increased understanding; (2)

I think I’m in love

It could be that the Department of Interior’s new website would appear merely well done if Monday afternoon hadn’t been spent at a Congressional field hearing listening to Central Valley Rep Tom McClintock lie, lie and lie some more about how the federal government is failing his region for the “enjoyment and amusement” of a fish. There might be a more shameless man in politics, whatever the party, but it doesn’t bear thinking about. Instead, quaint as it might sound, to find out what is actually happening, click here for Interior’s Interim Federal Action Plan for the California Bay-Delta. If you missed it the first time, it’s because it was published two days before Christmas.

For a report from hydrogeologist Michael Campana on the proceedings this week inside the National Academy of Sciences committee gathered at the behest of Senator Dianne Feinstein, click here. The committee was convened 

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    Emily Green by e-mail at emily.green [at] mac.com
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