Romancing the River: The Appropriation Doctrine – and Its Appropriation

mmsguru2024, Sibley's Rivers5 Comments

Romancing the River: The Appropriation Doctrine – and Its Appropriation

‘The single biggest roadblock to solving the problem of stabilizing the river is the priority system.’ – Tom Buschatzke, Director of Arizona’s 
 Department of Water Resource   Last post, I laid out some reasons why the water mavens now engaged in mapping out Colorado River management strategies beyond 2026 – the year ‘interim’ management strategies expire – should consider laying the Colorado River Compact to rest, archiving it along with most of the chain of subsequent compacts, rules and guidelines, legislated acts, minuted treaties and interim patches and props known as the ‘Law of the River,’ and start over with a new compact that actually reflects contemporary river realities. One of those reasons was the fact that the Compact had failed from the start in its primary goal: to provide for an ‘equitable division and apportionment of the use of the waters’ that was not driven by the prior appropriation doctrine, which was leading the seven states into an … Read More

Romancing the River: Prior Appropriation and Present Priorities

mmsguru2024, Sibley's Rivers10 Comments

Romancing the River: Prior Appropriation and Present Priorities

‘Fiddling while Rome burns’ – that’s what the Roman emperor Nero is remembered for, practicing on his fiddle while mobs tore up the city. In Ortega’s memorable phrase: responding to the lack of bread by burning down the bakery. But – ‘fiddling while Rome burns’: I often feel like that’s my life these days. We are facing two situations that are called ‘existential’ because they are deeply impacting the way we live – even if we live on as a species. One of the two is immediate, this year, choosing whether we will continue as a more or less free and open democratic society, or will submit ourselves to an authoritarian regime under a malignant narcissist. And the other situation, longer term but more inevitable: whether we will choose to drastically change some foundational cultural systems that are making the planet increasingly uninhabitable for us as a species. This being where we are – what am I doing about it? … Read More

Romancing the River: Thinking Like a River

George2024, Sibley's Rivers7 Comments

Romancing the River: Thinking Like a River

Greetings in 2024, which promises to be an interesting year, along the Colorado River and beyond it too. May we come out of it affirmed nationally in our commitment to democratic governance, and improved in our execution of it on our river. Back in the earlier part of the last century, the great conservationist and ecologist Aldo Leopold advised us to ‘think like a mountain’ – a large entity occupied by many life forms working together, sometimes cooperatively, sometimes competitively, but keeping the whole system in a living, dynamic balance. Remove any part – the wolves, in his story – and something else would start to go out of balance (the deer) and a kind of disorder would spread through the whole system. When intruding on an ecosystem, he was saying, tread carefully and move incrementally, stop often to observe your unfolding consequences…. Were Leopold here today, as we undertake the sobering Anthropocene task of more effective management strategies for … Read More