Who doesn’t like a measure of certainty? Of course, the word “measure” here is exactly as vague in its meaning as the word “fraction” as in City X has “only a fraction” of the drug violence of City B. Is it a big fraction or a small one? I mean 98/99ths is a fraction.
So how can one measure “a measure?”
In the case before us today, the “measure of certainty” about future water use of the waters of the Colorado River Basin in the United States and Mexico, seems to be pretty high, based on the details of the agreements, called “a minute” that have been made public.
Hey, you say, what kind of certainty can there be about something like international allocations of water, when water supply is so dependent on the weather. I mean what’s less uncertain than the weather?
Of course, out here in the dry Southwest, the past 17 years have been one of the driest stretches on record, and scientists are pretty certain that global warming and climate change predict this dry region is only going to get drier.
So it is very good news for the “measure of certainty” folks that the Minute contains not just allocations of water that is already there, but includes a contingency plan to cover continued drought.
There also seems to be an agreement in hand in California to stop the retreat of water from the Salton Sea. Chapter and Verse on how and how much the salt-water lake is to be preserved, with performance guarantees and timelines.
But, as one backer of the Salton Sea agreement put it: those timelines and promises about dikes and canals and wetlands are all very well, but until it’s budgeted and enacted …they’re “all just another piece of paper.”
With respect to these matters and water lore in general, I learned what little I know a by following the blog of our guest today, John Fleck, longtime journalist at the Albuquerque Journal, now teaching at the University of New Mexico, and the author of one of my favorite books: Water is for Fighting Over and Other Myths About Water in the West.
John, let’s begin with this new agreement between the US and Mexico… probably the best thing that’s happened in US-Mexico relations in some time. What are the main points?
Drought emergency re-allocation
John Fleck is Professor of Practice in Water Policy and Governance and Director of the University of New Mexico Water Resources Program. Much of his career was spent in journalism, focused since the 1980s on the interface between science and political and policy processes, with special emphasis on climate and water in the southwestern United States. He was the Water Resource program’s writer-in-residence for three years before transitioning to academia full time in 2016. In the field of water resources, his primary interest is in nurturing the collaborative water governance needed to adapt to scarcity in the southwestern United States as populations grow while climate change reduces water supplies.
Water is for Fighting Over: and Other Myths about Water in the West, Island Press, 2016