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Upper and Lower Basin Scholars Seek NAS Review of Colorado River Basin Study

Saying that the 2012 Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study and Moving Forward Effort “has not sufficiently engaged academic and scientific assets,” a group of 23 scientists have requested a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) review. Te scientists, who are from the Upper and Lower Colorado River basins, want the review to help develop “successful and robust strategies to secure water supplies and recover endangered species in a timely and affordable manner.” In an Oct. 13 letter to Interior Secre-

tary Sally Jewell, the group of academics lauded the Basin Study but expressed concern that “some management options presently under consideration represent a departure from the baseline standards that have been provided in recent de- cades, and, on the whole, these options fail to provide a clear picture of how water security will be realized in the 21st century.” Authors of the letter pointed to the 2009 Science and Engineering to Comprehensively Understand and

Responsibly Enhance Water (SECURE) Act, the underpinning of the Basin Study that stated “adequate and safe supplies of water are fundamental to the health, economy, security, and ecology of the United States although global climate change poses a significant challenge to the protection of these resources.” Interior will respond to the request, a spokeswoman said. Fulfilling the spirit of the SECURE

Water Act requires outside review, the letter said.

“Te need to synthesize climate change impacts, groundwater impacts, flood management criteria, water demand forecasts, recovery of the river’s ecology and water quality impacts were specifically asked for in the Act, and so it is reasonable to request that [Interior] seek an impartial review of the Basin Study process to ensure that the program is indeed on track,” the scientists wrote. “Such independence and expertise can more objectively confront the difficult issues that might otherwise continue to escape through the cracks amidst the

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challenges of maintaining this stake- holder-driven process.” Signatories included Tim P. Barnett from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Karl W. Fless from the University of Arizona, Tucson, and Bradley H. Udall from Colorado State University, Fort Collins. Te NAS describes itself as “provid- ing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology.”

Te academics believe the NAS could

add a valuable layer of analysis to the challenge of the projected supply/de- mand imbalance on the Colorado River. “As scientists we appreciate the peer-

review methods of the NAS,” they wrote. “Because the development of manage- ment criteria in the Colorado River basin is often volatile, the NAS would main- tain confidentiality and quality control in their review process.” According to the letter, the Basin

Study was “overly focused” on an aver- age future runoff decline of 9 percent by 2060 when researchers have revealed climate change-induced runoff reduc-

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