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4/11/2014 6:00:00 AM
Colorado River basin 'in a serious situation'
Farm land being developed in the Kingman area is one of many factors prompting people to worry about future water supplies.
Farm land being developed in the Kingman area is one of many factors prompting people to worry about future water supplies.

Matt Reinig
Miner reporter

KINGMAN - Drought, anticipated population increases and a growing imbalance between water supply and demand have placed Mohave County's water supply among the most endangered river basins in the country.

The Colorado River basin ranked most-endangered river in the country last year by American Rivers, a conservation organization.

This year the Colorado River basin made the top 10 list once again at second-most endangered, next to California's San Joaquin, according to an annual report released Wednesday.

The upper basin is of specific concern for the Colorado River given the wildlife. Also on the list is the Gila River in New Mexico, a tributary of the Colorado River.

The organization credits the endangerment of both water bodies to water diversion and wasteful, outdated water management practices.

Between them both is Mohave County and the lower Colorado River basin, which the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation states in a 2012 report has water demands on the Colorado River beyond the specified 7.5 million acre-feet apportionment.

The upper basin states are under an amalgamated contract called "the Law of the River" to maintain the river's health and elevation levels so that a reliable source of water can reach lower basin states such as Arizona Nevada, and California.

"We're in the midst of a 14-year drought. This year we got less water from Lake Powell into Lake Mead since the two reservoirs began working together," said Rose Davis, public information officer for the Bureau of Reclamation's Lower Basin Colorado River office. "While we're in a serious situation, we were able to make all our water deliveries in 2014, and we're awaiting the arrival of the melting snow pack."

Snows melt throughout the spring season and feed into the Colorado River basin, Davis said, and right now the snow pack level is between 110 to 113 percent greater than normal.

"So it's good news right now," she said, though they will have to wait until summer to determine how many extra gallons that could translate to. "We don't foresee any shortage declarations at this point for 2014, so everybody will be at their normal water point."

But the agency is still keeping a close eye on the Department of the Interior's 2012 report, which did not have good news and served as a wake-up call, Davis said.

"It projected an imbalance in supply and demand, so Reclamation is certainly a believer in water recycling and reuse, but those are programs implemented at the local level," she said. "We help with expertise and grant funding, but the communities and the states deserve a huge amount of credit for the different ways they have implemented water recycling programs."

The Lower Division States, which include Arizona, have water demands on the Colorado River beyond their 7.5 million acre-feet apportionments.

Across all scenarios in the lower Colorado River basin states, the long-term projected imbalance in future supply and demand is right around 3.2 million acres-feet by 2060, according to the Bureau of Reclamation's report.

One of two indicators used to measure basin "vulnerability" in the report extends into portions of Mohave County at Lake Mead: an overall indication of system reliability can be assessed by Lake Mead's elevation dropping below 1,000 feet above mean sea level in any month.

Analysis comparisons drawn in the report indicate that without action, it will become increasingly difficult for the system to meet basin resource needs over the next 50 years. While implementing new practices may result in a predicted 16 percent improvement, as indicated by elevated water levels at Lake Mead, results indicate the basin will nevertheless remain vulnerable.

Augmentation, reuse and conservation were the only options included in the analysis that could satisfy future demands of the basin, the report concludes.

"There is no bad time to do conservation," said Davis. "There just isn't."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, April 13, 2014
Article comment by: T W

To drill a well you need a permit. Couldn't someone check to see how many well permits this farm has?

Posted: Sunday, April 13, 2014
Article comment by: Peirs Polkiss

RE: We "Leave" in the Desert
Yes we are in a drought, and there are areas of the southwest which might need water restrictions but the water you want to so desperately save Kingman from using, is in abundance underground. The USGS estimates that there is around 15 million acre-feet of water in Kingman's aquifer. One acre foot is 325,851 gallons. So multiply that number by 15 MILLION, and that is how much water we are standing on. And you are upset because someone planted a patch of grass? Not me . . . I'm amazed they have the perseverance and where-with-all to grow grass, but upset, I am not. When presented with facts I would say those proclaiming that the sky is falling are the "wackos" (your words).

I also previously stated that Red Lake is not on Kingman's aquifer. I was wrong on that point. It is. So if you would like to argue sustainability of farming in that area, by all means, go ahead. But begrudging a person for enjoying a hobby or trying to beautify their little neck of the woods seems small and petty. Especially when presented with facts.

Posted: Saturday, April 12, 2014
Article comment by: Randal Smith

@Peirs Polkiss, I happen to live in the Red Lake aquifer area and it does bother me. There is an epidemic in the lack of common sense, that is how Rhodes manage to get pass our idiot politicians and put in a farm in the middle of the desert. I can now see how a none qualified, community organizer got vote in as president twice. We have a generation of brain dead zombies doing the voting.

Posted: Saturday, April 12, 2014
Article comment by: We Leave in the Desert

Why are our leaders not addressing the issue? The mayor should be directing the city manager (because he is unable to do anything without the council telling him) to draw up a community landscape ordinance that excludes private property owners from planting heavy water use plants like grass, willow trees, etc. Rip out 90% of the water thirsty grass at the golf course and replace it with dicondira or other ground cover that doesn't require the water grass does. It was sad to see the jewelry store on Stockton Hill rip up the very attractive desert landscape and replace it with grass. I won't be patronizing the business for that reason.

Gary Watson and the other merry men and woman, why no leadership on this issue. Shame on you.

Now for the comments thus far. Okay the wackos are there with conspiracy theories. Then you have the kill-the-messenger crowd. Then you have the don't-believe-it group - "abundance of water" - excuse me by all reports this entire desert southwest region of our country is in a drought.

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014
Article comment by: Linda Things Go Better With Koch Athens

Mr. Reinig:

We would all love to see water above the watermark at Lake Mead and a reminder, we are desert, therefore we are usually in a draught.

However, American Rivers is a far left wing environmental group, probably not a good organization to quote. Big believers in global warming, man is destroying the planet, etc, please note their co-horts in the following letter from them to the President.

>>American Rivers * Clean Water Action * Defenders of Wildlife * Earthjustice Energy Action Coalition * Environment America * Environmental Defense Fund Friends of the Earth * League of Conservation Voters * National Audubon Society National Wildlife Federation * Native American Rights Fund Natural Resources Defense Council * Oceana * Physicians for Social Responsibility Population Connection * Sierra Club * Voices for Progress

January 16, 2014

President Barack Obama

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D. C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

We applaud the actions you have taken to reduce economy-wide carbon pollution and your commitment last June “to take bold action to reduce carbon pollution” and “lead the world in a coordinated assault on climate change.” We look forward to continuing to work with you to achieve these goals.(truncated)

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014
Article comment by: desert dweller

Isn't that strange...just a few years back, the genius' wanted to sell water rights! I thought then, and varified now...STUPID!

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014
Article comment by: Peirs Polkiss

Is this article scare tactics? Because upon closer examination of just the article itself, Kingman is not whom they are talking about. Areas of Mohave County - yes - Kingman = no.
One of the few things Kingman has going for it believe it or not, is an abundance of water. This is not to say we should not conserve here in Kingman. Nor is it an essay on how difficult it is to grow things here in our USDA zone. It is just that with the Rhodes farms in the news lately, transplanted citizens find it impossible to believe Kingman doesn't have a water problem, and their knee jerk reactions only hamper our chances of growth. Lastly, remember that Golden Valley and Red Lake (where the farms are located) are not on the same aquifer as Kingman.
So please, stop with the scare tactics.

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014
Article comment by: Linda Things Go Better With Koch Athens

We all want to see that watermark at Lake Mead higher. So let's start praying.

And be advised of American Rivers co-horts..

A sampling. A letter on their letterhead:

>>>>American Bird Conservancy * AMERICAN RIVERS * Clean Water Action * Earthjustice *
Environmental Law & Policy Center * Friends of the Earth * Friends Committee on
National Legislation * Greenpeace * League of Conservation Voters * National Audubon
Society * National Environmental Trust * Natural Resources Defense Council * National
Wildlife Federation * Physicians for Social Responsibility * Sierra Club * Southern
Alliance for Clean Energy * Union of Concerned Scientists * U.S. Public Interest Research
Group * Western Organization of Resource Councils * The Wilderness Society

March 2, 2007
House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative,

On behalf of our millions of members we strongly urge you to cosponsor the Federal Renewable
Energy Portfolio Standard Act (HR 969).

This bill, introduced by Representatives Tom Udall
(NM) and Todd Platts (PA), will increase our use of homegrown renewable resources like wind,
solar, geothermal, and biomass to generate electricity by 20 percent by 2020.

Increasing our use
of renewable energy is critical to reducing GLOBAL WARMING POLLUTION.

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014
Article comment by: Your Source...

Your "source" you are getting your info from, American Rivers Conservation, has a vested interest in scaring people into thinking there is no water.
Go to their website and you'll see it has "Donate Now" from the top to the bottom of every one of their pages.
No fear, no donations.

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014
Article comment by: Glenda Erwin

As I read this article, I can see the light of ANOTHER big well going in on Rhode's "farm" near Red Lake north of Kingman.

I'm thinking maybe that rumor of 300 wells going in there is not just a rumor after all!

When will our state and local government address the ecological madness of this project??!!

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014
Article comment by: Rick Sherwood

Interesting report. But did you notice it was all about the river. Not one word about the health of our aquifers. It came close, we're in a 14 year drought. Is it any wonder that our BOS leadership 3 of whom reside on or near the river see no problems? We need leaders who understand this issue and are not content with it's the State's responsibility.

Posted: Friday, April 11, 2014
Article comment by: Al DiCicco

It's all deliberate. Google Geoengineering and Agenda 21.

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