Two good reads on the troubled Colorado River

May 27, 2015
Photo: The Colorado River (iStockphoto)
The Colorado River with Grand Mesa in the background from Riverbend Park, Palisade, Colo.

traveled the length of the river starting near the river's headwaters outside of Rocky Mountain National Park. He spoke with CSU scientist Bradley Udall, who explained the paradox of conservation.

Increasing efficiency also does nothing to address over-allocation. Indeed, it can make over-allocation more dire, by allowing uses, and even the total number of users, to grow. Waste, paradoxically, is a kind of reservoir. If the residents of a suburb routinely water their lawns, they can stop during a drought. But once they’ve replaced their Bermuda grass with cacti and gravel, and once the water that formerly ran through their sprinklers has been redirected to bathrooms and kitchens in brand-new subdivisions, the enlarged system is more vulnerable in dry periods, because it contains less slack.

And this week, ProPublica is rolling out an expansive series on the river. The first installment explains how decades-old agriculture subsidies are "killing the Colorado." 

... at a time when farmers in Arizona, California and other Western states might otherwise adapt to a water-short world, federal farm subsidies are helping preserve a system in which the thirstiest crops are grown in some of the driest places.