Romancing the River: Quo Vadimus 2

George2023, Sibley's Rivers9 Comments

Hassayampa River Preserve, AZ Photo by John Menard

…the fabled Hassayampa… of whose waters, if any drink, they can no more see fact as naked fact, but all radiant with the color of romance. – Mary Austin, ‘Land of Little Rain’ That fabled Hassayampa is in the news these days, down in Arizona. The Hassayampa River does exist, by the way: an intermittent stream that flows off the south slopes of the Colorado Plateau, and down through a desert valley west of the sprawling phenomenon of Phoenix, where it joins the Gila River, which in turn joins the Colorado River down near Yuma and the Mexican border. A new development has been proposed for the lower Hassayampa Valley, catering to those trying to stay out ahead of the sprawl: the Howard Hughes Corporation wants to turn 37,000 acres of Sonoran desert land there, just west of the White Tank Mountains, into a new development, Teravalis, with 100,000 homes for maybe 300,000 people, and 55 million square feet of … Read More

The Water: Where does it all go?

George2022, Sibley's RiversLeave a Comment

Conifer forest in colorado

The previous post here ended with the observation, from the 2020 Western Water Assessment Colorado River science study, that around 170 million acre-feet of water fall on the Colorado River Basin – but only 14-17 million acre-feet end up in the actual river. Where does the other 90 percent go? And a corollary question: for such a water-stressed river basin, is there any way to get some of that lost water in the river? We observed earlier that Planet Earth is at just the right distance from the sun for water to exist as a solid, liquid and vapor; recall too that virtually all land-based life depends on it vaporizing from the salty ocean (leaving the salts behind), and then falling over the land as freshwater precipitation, liquid and solid. And the transformations between states are a function of temperature, solar intensity and wind – which means that in a time of rising ambient temperatures, water’s predilection for the vaporous … Read More