Thirst Gap is a six-part podcast series about how the Southwest is adapting to water shortages as climate change causes the region to warm up and dry out. The s... More
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Where the River Ends
The Colorado River comes to an end at the U.S.-Mexico border. The entirety of its flow, already heavily tapped upstream in the U.S., is sent into an irrigation canal to grow crops in the Mexicali Valley and to flow through faucets in Tijuana and Mexicali. The river’s final hundred miles have been mostly dry for decades. Environmental groups on both sides of the border are working together to let the Colorado flow again in its historic channel.
First in Time
Tribes in the southwest hold significant rights to the Colorado River’s water. But they’ve been left out of nearly every major agreement to manage the river. Leaders across the region are debating how to use less water amid the region’s warming climate. Tribes say they never got the chance to use their water in the first place, and that everyone in the river basin should plan for a future where they do. This episode features interviews with Leila Help-Tulley, and her daughter, Crystal Tulley-Cordova, principal hydrologist with the Navajo Nation. Also, a conversation with Roland Tso, a grazing official with the community of Many Farms. We also hear oral arguments from a March 2023 Supreme Court hearing on Arizona v. the Navajo Nation.
A Crackdown in Sin City
Las Vegas is known as a city of excess. But not when it comes to water. The desert metropolis relies on the Colorado River to keep its iconic casinos bustling. The short supply has caused city leaders to enforce some of the tightest water conservation measures in the West. Green lawns are enemy number one. This episode features interviews with Kurtis Hyde with Par 3 Landscape & Maintenance, a landscape company in the Las Vegas metro area, and John Entsminger, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority. Also, conversations with Devyn Choltko with the Las Vegas Valley Water District and homeowners Linda and Raymond Marston.
The Big Empty
Lake Powell is a boater’s dream. The nation’s second largest reservoir on the Colorado River is a maze of sandstone canyons teeming with houseboats. But climate change and unchecked demand for water sent the lake’s levels to a new record low this year. In this episode we explore changes to recreation in this popular vacation hotspot.
Farmers and ranchers use the vast majority of the Colorado River’s water. Getting them to voluntarily use less is difficult. The West’s water rights system incentivizes farmers to use all of their water to prevent their rights from losing value. Trying to balance the region’s water supply and demand will require farmers to use less. In this episode we visit western Colorado’s Grand Valley, an irrigated green pocket in the desert famous for its peach orchards. The area was the testing ground for experimental conservation programs that would pay farmers to dry up some of their land in an effort to boost the river’s flagging reservoirs. This episode features interviews with Troy Waters, a western Colorado farmer who relies on Colorado River water to irrigate his fields, and his son Calvin, who is preparing to take over the family farm. Plus, conversations with former Grand Valley Water Users Association general manager Mark Harris, and the association’s current general manager, Tina Bergonzini, about experimental conservation programs tested in the valley.
About Thirst Gap: Learning to Live with Less on the Colorado River
Thirst Gap is a six-part podcast series about how the Southwest is adapting to water shortages as climate change causes the region to warm up and dry out. The series zooms in on people and places grappling with limited water supplies in the Colorado River watershed, and examines the tradeoffs that come with learning to live with less water.