Beyond the Mirage

Expand/Collapse Beyond the Mirage


The video clips in the Beyond the Mirage Collection tell the story about the future of water in the west.

  • Yield of the Colorado

    One of the things that the Basin Project Act in '68 required was for the Secretary of the Interior to do a study. The conclusions were very interesting and they're as applicable then, as they are now. There isn't going to be enough water to go around.

    Grades: 4-13+
  • The Perfect Storm

    The Colorado River is over allocated, which means, there's actually more rights to water, than there reliably is water in the river every year. Now, you' have a perfect storm.

    Grades: 4-13+
  • The Lower Lake Mead Gets, the Faster it Falls

    If we don't get good, large winter snow packs in the next six years, seven years, we're liable to be at elevation 1000 feet in Lake Mead, even with the reductions and the guidelines. We're off the chart at that point and we don't know what rules might apply.

    Grades: 4-13+
  • The Food Chain

    Alfalfa is sold to a dairy, the dairy feeds it to the cows......those cows will produce milk, that milk will be hauled to town and turned into bottled milk, ice cream, cheese, yogurt, butter, all kinds of dairy products that are sold throughout the state. We use a lot of water to grow these crops and so the real consumer of that water is the public, when they buy and consume the food.

    Grades: 4-13+
  • Structural Deficit

    Since 2000, in the current drought, we've seen Lake Mead decline by more than a hundred feet in elevation. Some would say, well that's the sign of the drought and it's true in part. But the normal amount, and I put quotes around that, the "normal" amount of water, eight and a quarter million acre feet or more was released from Lake Powell every year to Lake Mead, and yet Lake Mead dropped every year. The reason that we have this structural deficit and the reason that we're heading this way is because we're not charging those evaporative losses in Lake Mead.

     

    Grades: 4-13+
  • Snowpack

    When we think about water management, we think about reservoirs. What we're really talking about across the west is snowpack. You know we think of reservoirs as physical things, but dams are really structures to manage snowmelt. Winter storms coming off the Pacific Ocean have to be of a certain nature. They have to be cold enough. They have to have enough moisture. They have to be able to tap into enough moisture to be able to put down snowpack at upper elevations. Those are really critical to building up water in the reservoirs.

    Grades: 4-13+
  • Shortage Cuts Will Not Stabilize Lake Mead

    The worst case is if we go through those shortage levels and Lake Mead continues to drop. At that point, the shortage sharing agreement no longer holds and it really would be up to the Secretary of the Interior as to who is going to get water out of that river. The modeling that Bureau of Reclamation has done would suggest that those reductions may need to be on the order of as much as 2 million acre feet to, if you look at climate change scenarios, maybe up to 6 million acre feet reduction, to maintain elevation 1000'.

    Grades: 4-13+
  • Ralph's Well Goes Dry

    August 24th was the day that the well officially went dry. We had been over at our church and came back and I went over to turn on the water, and it's like it just trickled and went to nothing. "How come I'm out of water. Why is my well going dry?" Then you find out other people are having the same thing and you see all the big agricultural pivots in the area and you're like "well they're pumping all the time. It's their fault." You can't blame the farmers. Farmers are doing what farmers do. Nobody guarantees that you're gonna have water for an eternity when you put a well in.

    Grades: 4-13+
  • Mega Drought

    The longest drought occurred in the 1100's and we define it as 60 years of drought. 60 years is so much longer than anything we've seen in the 20th or 21st Centuries. What would happen if that occurred now?

    Grades: 4-13+
  • Growth in the Southwest

    Growth in the Southwest was after World War II. It was during a wet period, by and large, in the 1980s through the mid 90s. Since the late 90s, we've been in a drought episode. So this is really the first time that we've seen this confluence of high population and severe and extensive drought.

     

    Grades: 4-13+
  • El Nino Drought Cycle

    The southwest has big droughts. We're built for drought. We should expect droughts. It's related to cycles of sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. So in the winter time in the southwest, when we have a warm tropical Pacific Ocean, it's more energetic putting more moisture out there. We typically have a wet winter in the southwest. When we have a cool tropical eastern Pacific Ocean, we get a drought pattern. Those years are called La Nina years. Those stacking up of La Nina winters over decades gives us these drought cycles we're currently experiencing right now.

    Grades: 4-13+
  • Colorado River Allocations

    The three lower basin states, Arizona, California, and Nevada, were allocated a portion, 7.5 million acre feet a year. California got 4.4 million acre-feet. Arizona got 2.8 million acre-feet. And Nevada got 300,000 acre-feet. It's generally considered that the compact came together after a wet period.

    Grades: 4-13+
  • Climate Change Projections

    The Colorado River streamflow is projected to decrease over the course of this century. The estimates range from about 5% to 15%. It just being warmer, means less snowpack, which then turns into less water into the water systems that we're managing.

    Grades: 4-13+
  • CAP Shortage Priorities

    A 1075 foot elevation is the trigger for a level one shortage.If that shortage is declared, then CAP would lose access to about 320,000 acre-feet or about 20% of what we deliver on annual basis. As Lake Mead continues to fall, if it continues to fall, at 1050 foot, the reduction increases to 400,000 acre-feet to Arizona. At 1025 foot, the reduction would be 480,000 acre-feet to Arizona.

    Grades: 4-13+
  • Can Vegas Get Water

     

    Southern Nevada gets 90% of its water from the Colorado River. Nevada has two intakes into Lake Mead. The second intake sits at elevation 1000 feet. The question for Nevada is: What happens below elevation 1000 feet? We needed an intake below. We spent a billion dollars going underneath Lake Mead and putting a new intake structure at the bottom of that reservoir. Unless they do some substantial engineering changes to that intake, then once Lake Mead falls below 1000 feet they will be struggling to find a way to get water out of that lake. That's unacceptable. Right now, a new five, six hundred million dollar pump station is being built that will allow us to take water from those elevations. Which means, long after Lake Mead passes Deadpool, we'll still be able to take water out of Lake Mead.

    Grades: 4-13+
  • California's Priority over the Central Arizona Project

    One of the things that Arizona had to agree to, in order to get the CAP authorized, was to allow California to have senior priority over the CAP. In Arizona, the Central Arizona Project, that is, will be reduced till the point that it has no water, before California's 4.4 million acre-feet is cut.That agreement, that Arizona was going to be the junior partner, is coming back to haunt us.

    Grades: 4-13+
  • 15 Years of Drought

    The West is really at the forefront of water problems in the country. A number of factors coming together. One is drought. The Colorado is now in the 15th year of drought and what we don't know is whether this is the 15th year of a 15 year drought or the 15th year of a 50 year drought. Add into that, climate change. The scientists are pretty well agreed that that's gonna have adverse consequences for the Colorado River in particular. And, population growth.

    Grades: 4-13+

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