High good, low bad, Mead elevations 1999-2009

Source: federal Bureau of Reclamation. Click on the image for its 2010 operating plan for the Colorado River.

NOT everything went down during the Noughties. While federal Bureau of Reclamation records show that the elevation of Lake Mead, the major “lower basin” Colorado River reservoir serving Arizona, California and Nevada, fell more than 117 feet, the population of the US states served by Mead rose. The US Census Bureau estimates that the population of the driest state in the country, Nevada, climbed 32.3%, while Arizona’s increased 28.6% and California’s 9.1%.

If Lake Mead were a financial institution, people might, stress on might, question the logic of outgrowing one’s resources. As John Fleck of the Albuquerque Journal pointed out after reading the first version of this post, Mead is at its lowest elevation since it was first filled in the 1930s.

But the spendthrift lower basin states such as Nevada have