, 25 tweets, 10 min read Read on Twitter
The Colorado River Brain Trust (trademark @jfleck) is gathering in Boulder today and tomorrow to breathe a small sigh of relief about recently signed drought plans and this wet winter, and to brace for the white knuckle ride of a whole new set of wide ranging negotiations.
Terry Fulp, Lower Basin director for @usbr, says he doesn’t know when negotiations of new management guidelines will start — sometime “before December 31, 2020” — but says he favors an incremental approach. Something that let’s all stakeholders have “a win.”
The overriding tension heading into the negotiations seems to be: incremental vs. radical. Do water managers keep taking small steps? Or do they entertain an entire rethinking of the relationship between the river's two basins? Are they conservative or will they dream big?
.@azwater head Tom Buschatzke says next steps are:

- States will lead charge in negotiations

- AZ participants in those talks will expand

-Basin states haven't talked about scope of new guidelines

-Expect reductions in AZ to be unmitigated: "learn to live with less water"
@azwater Re-upping this Bingo card from @jzaffos for today's Colo. River conference:
@azwater @jzaffos To work collaboratively on the river, Chris Harris of Colo. River Board of CA, says the Salton Sea is a basin problem, not just a California problem. The shrinking lake was a significant point of tension in drought plan negotiations.
@azwater @jzaffos Amy Haas of Upper Colorado River Comm. starts off talking about demand mgmt (pay farmers to fallow) by managing expectations. Haas says bigger bang for the buck will come from the much less controversial drought plan element of reservoir operations.
@azwater @jzaffos Read: maybe we don't *really* need demand management? Maybe not yet?
Haas: a demand management (pay to fallow) program is not a fait accompli in the river's Upper Basin. Big unanswered questions remain.
Where does money (lots and lots of money) come from?
How to make a program that functions within and among states?
Who's in charge of program?
More unanswered questions about demand mgmt:
- How do you account for the conserved water?
-How do you "shepherd" that conserved water across state boundaries?
-Can all this program be set up in the next 6ish years, at the same time everyone's focused on basin-wide negotiations?
The Upper Basin Drought Contingency *Plan* isn't so much a plan, Haas says, as a directive to starts a process to make a series of plans.
This is Brad Udall’s sobering graph of Lakes Mead and Powell’s combined storage since 2000. See how it’s the lowest right now? It’ll rise a bit this year with heavy runoff, but not enough.
.@bradudall brought up the embarrassment of Colorado River system manipulation... AKA the "sweet spot" debacle from 2018. @bretjaspers and I role-played as water agencies to illustrate that dust-up: kunc.org/post/five-thin…
@bradudall @bretjaspers .@bradudall going in on the concept of Intentionally Created Surplus, where agencies forgo water deliveries and store the "saved" water in Lake Mead. Udall says it's playing pretend. It's "not real conservation, just shifting use in time”
@bradudall @bretjaspers "ICS allows us to think we have more water than we do."
ICS was key to passage over the last big set of Colorado River guidelines in 2007, and adjustments to it were a part of the recently signed drought contingency plans.
@bradudall @bretjaspers To anyone outside the Colorado River wonk world this is probably gobbledygook, but everyone at the conference now is like "whoa, @bradudall really went there on intentionally created surplus," and this is why beat reporting is so fun.
Kathy Jacobs, who led a National Climate Assessment, says in Colo. River Basin, we are not prepared for either long term drought or potential floods. People need not agree on what *should* happen but must agree on what *might* happen.
Jennifer Pitt of Audubon says Mexico has been much quicker than U.S. to embrace the scientific consensus around climate change, and plan accordingly. In new Colo. River negotiations, MX seems willing to share equally in water shortages.
Pat Tyrrell of Wyoming makes argument that Colorado River management is not currently a dumpster fire.
Pat Tyrrell says any big new Colo. River deal can't open up the 1922 Compact. He throws a wet blanket on a possible cap on Upper Basin water uses: "you can't go to Utah and tell them, you're not going to have any more kids."
Anne Castle of CU-Boulder, former @Interior official, says a cap on new water development in the Upper Basin has to be on the table.
@Interior Multiple panelists now saying they have no intention of renegotiating the Colorado River compact. Here's why that's such a lightning rod in the basin: kunc.org/post/everyone-…
@Interior Former @ColoradoWater director @R_EricKuhn says the myth of economic prosperity being tied to increasing water use needs to be broken. Basin needs to: "Live with what we got, not what we thought we had 100 years ago."
Q: Is the Salton Sea a basin-wide problem?
No, says John Entsminger of @SNWA_H2O. The plights of the shrinking sea and Pinal County farmers shouldn't hold up wider discussions.
In closing, @SNWA_H2O's Entsminger says he's worried about partisanship and political tribalism invading the Colorado River Basin: "For us to be successful we’ve all got to lose.”
"The future of this river is using less."
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