Click on the image to read about Powell's new book from National Geographic

From the Pasadena-based NPR affiliate KPCC: “In the spring of 2008, author and National Geographic grantee Jonathan Waterman launched a journey by boat and by foot down the Colorado River. His 1,450-mile trip began at the river’s source in Rocky Mountain National Park and followed the river through the Sonoran desert and the parched Mexican delta, all the way to the Pacific Ocean. The Colorado River supplies water for more that 30 million people and 3 million farm acres and is the most diverted and litigated river in the world. Through his journey, John Waterman gets to the heart of the complex issues facing the river whose water levels have dipped to an all-time low. His book examines the impact of the Colorado’s peril on a vast region and looks at the immense debate over water use

Badass tats for a good cause

It’s been a long dry spell since the “save water, shower with a friend” campaign from back in the day (when was it? 1970s? 80s?). But finally conservationists are having some fun again. And this time they’re bearing some badass tats. To learn more about a new non-profit, SaveTheColorado.org and a grant program dedicated purely to foment conservation along the river’s nearly 15,000 mile course, click here.

High good, low bad: Mead in September

Fireworks over Hoover Dam in 2002 for the US Bureau of Reclamation centennial. Photo: USBR. The year of Reclamation's centennial was at the time the worst on record for snowmelt recharging the Colorado River. Fast shrinking reserves in Lake Mead behind Hoover Dam convinced quarreling states along the Colorado River that the days of surpluses were over and the Colorado River was headed into an epochal drought.

COMPLETION of Hoover Dam in 1936 created Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States. It holds Colorado River water serving California, Arizona, Nevada and the Republic of Mexico. Climate change and population growth in Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego and Los Angeles have reduced the lake’s elevation more than 32 feet in the last five years. Here are year-on-year US Bureau of Reclamation closing elevations for September going back to 2004:

DATE                       ELEVATION

September 30, 2009

The Colorado River in San Marino

THIS  kind of discretion could put a reporter out of business, or in court, but the essay by photography curator Jennifer A. Watts introducing the “Downstream” exhibit at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens is too beautiful to bowdlerize. Better to lift it intact: 

Karen Halverson, Davis Gulch, Lake Powell, Utah from the Downstream series, 1994-1995. Archival pigment print. 24 x 20 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

ONE WINTRY MORNING IN 1994, KAREN HALVERSON (b. 1941) awoke convinced she needed to photograph the Colorado River. 

An accomplished artist who had already spent 20 years exploring the American West, she set off on a two-year encounter with the vast, breathtaking terrain along the river’s serpentine route. “The impulse to photograph the Colorado River came to me out of the blue,” she writes, “but I acted on it as if it were my destiny.” Personal destiny and the Colorado River

In Defense of Salt Cedars


Those gorgeous plants are bad, right? They’re the invasive riparian trees sucking Western water ways so dry that in 2006 Congress dedicated $80 million to study how to get rid of them.


Yes, millions have been spent trying to kill them, but it turns out that they may be good for the West.

WaterWired spotted the story in the May / June issue of Southwest Hydrology and today zapped it straight into the echo chamber. It turns out that the much vilified Salt Cedar, aka Tamarisk, does not gulp inordinate amounts of water. Moreover, it cohabits nicely with native vegetation except where native vegetation is stressed by human pressure on the rivers. Evidently, tamarisk is even a good habitat for birds.

To read the article by  Edward P. Glenn of the University of Arizona and Pamela L. Nagler and Jeffrey E. Lovich of the US Geological Survey, click here

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