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Jun 11 2012

A Few Good Reads (6/11/12): Flash Flooding in Denver, the Growing Drought in the Southwest, and Still Recovering Along the Missouri

This week: Extreme weather and flooding in Denver, the effects of the 2011 Missouri River flooding linger, growing drought in the Southwest, USACE and the Netherlands working together, and costly repairs needed at Fort Peck Dam (5th largest reservoir by volume in the U.S.).

Still Living with the Flood (Omaha World-Herald)

Sprawling 30- to 40-foot holes scoured into farm fields. Sand dunes towering 15 feet where corn once grew.

Blinding, choking sandstorms erupting when the wind blows.

Water pooling in fields because it has nowhere to drain.

Pilings in an old river channel, exposed for the first time in more than a half-century on washed-out cropland.

The wellhead for a center-pivot irrigation system — once on solid ground — teetering on its casing, 30 feet above scoured land.

All along the Missouri River, reminders abound of the terrible toll that a historic flood inflicted last year on land and people from Montana to Missouri.

After a summer of flooding, the Missouri returned to its banks, but its legacy lingers.

Extreme Drought Area Grows (Your Water Colorado Blog)

The U.S. Drought Monitor expanded the area in northwest Colorado that is designated as being in extreme drought, growing 3 percent in the last week to cover about ten percent of the state. The May 29 map, released Thursday, shows 100 percent of Colorado is experiencing some level of drought condition.

Can Anything Save the Drying Southwest? (Time Science)

That whole sweep of the continental U.S. has a history of mega-droughts that occurred well before the major settlements of the past century, before desert cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas rose from nothing and before the Central Valley became the water-thirsty agricultural powerhouse it is today. It’s possible we might look back on the 20th century as an unusually wet period — and the settlements and agriculture we developed during those years may turn out to be manifestly unfit for a hotter, drier future.

From the Outside Looking in (to the Corps)… (The Water Away)

Roughly 10 years ago, the Rijkswaterstaat (pronounced “rikes water stot”) and the Corps  signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that catalyzed a partnership to share knowledge and expertise aimed at improving water management (and safety) in both countries.  The program stepped up the intensity a notch after Hurricane Katrina, which, with the utmost respect for those in New Orleans, also provided an opportunity for the United States to start fresh with the way at least at the Federal level, the country would choose to manage floods.

Corps: Fort Peck Dam repair may cost more than $225 million, but only $46 million available (Washington Post)

Record snowfalls and massive spring rains in Wyoming and Montana last year prompted the release of unprecedented volumes of water from the Corps’ six Missouri River dams.

The torrent damaged Fort Peck’s spillway gates and eroded areas downstream from the dam, located at the top of the Missouri River system.

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