Monday, February 04, 2019

Department of the Interior Web Site About Water Management and the Ongoing Drought Along the Colorado River

The Department of the Interior has established an interactive web site that allows users to better understand the seriousness of the current drought (since 1999) along the Colorado River drainage basin. Eleven distinct panels are expertly rendered and take viewers on a tour of the drainage basin and the stakeholders that increasingly "tug" on its water resources. You can access the web site here.

This graphic from panel #5 shows how the water supply in the river varies over time. Using your cursor, you can hover over the graphic for individual year values. In this screen-capture, I hovered over the low water year of 1977 to show that the river only carried 5.36 million acre feet (maf), compared to a 10-year running average of 13.57 maf.

In this graphic from panel #8, water supply is contrasted against the ever-increasing consumptive use. In this screen-capture, I chose the very first year that use outstripped supply - 1954. Water use in that year was 10.7 maf, but the river only carried 9.6 maf. Note how the red line is on a steady upward trajectory while water supply is highly variable.

Although the interactive graphs are the highlight of this site, it is also wonderfully designed with beautiful photographs. More importantly, it is an attempt by managers from the Department of the Interior and the Federal Government to begin to instill an awareness in all stakeholders about the current drought conditions. In addition, they hope that meaningful conversations about where we are headed as a society can begin and solutions can be addressed. Check it out!

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