The Colorado River drought and down-river water shortage gets worse


We just ignored the warnings

Re: “Can the West’s lifeline be saved?” Jan. 8 news story

“Can the West’s lifeline be saved?” Answer: No.

The American West is facing its most severe drought in human history —over 1,200 years, and it will likely persist through this decade ( As a result of climate change, America’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, is now 73% empty and dropping fast, bringing the reservoir closer to “dead pool” — so low that water cannot flow downstream from Hoover Dam.

This would be catastrophic. Over 40 million Americans depend on Colorado River water. It’s unlikely that Lake Mead will ever recover.

NASA predicted this exact scenario a decade ago. Like so much else about climate change, we didn’t listen. We’ve failed to take action even at the eleventh hour. The only hope we have now of avoiding irreversible, catastrophic climate disaster, nationally and globally, is to transition to clean energy as fast as possible.

The only glimmer of hope on the horizon is that the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, passed last year, will begin to make that transition to clean energy starting this year.

Meanwhile, we continue to support farmers in Arizona and California who grow alfalfa to feed cows in the United Arab Emirates and water-hungry almonds and pistachios. Too bad we didn’t listen to those climate scientists a few decades ago.

Lynn Goldfarb, Northglenn

Thank you for the informative article on water use in the Colorado River basin. This is a difficult item to find a solution to, but if we are serious about this, we are going to have to stop watering the desert.

I am originally from Iowa, where they get about 35 inches of rain annually. Places like this are where our crops and food should come from. We can chip away a little here and there from domestic use, but if 75% of the Colorado River water use is by agriculture, at some point, that has to be the solution to this crisis. Better choice of crops, money improving the irrigation systems, and paying farmers not to plant. This may cause pain for some, but losing electric power to millions of people will be much worse — tough decisions but really the only solution to this long-term problem.

Duane Jansen, Arvada

The truths about this topic are inconvenient. We are a spoiled populace. We don’t need to live in a desert, but we want to. We don’t need to eat pistachios and almonds, but we want to. And now, we are in a crisis of our own making. In Denver, for example, statistics are touted about per capita water use declining while the population has increased. What is conveniently not mentioned is that much of the population growth is from people who do not have lawns; they live in apartments. So, the can is kicked further down the road while policymakers avoid the hard conversations.

We can talk all day long about water conservation, converting lawns, and so forth. Until we use readily available technology to know when to water and how much, we are whistling in the wind. That goes for individuals, government, and business, the latter two of which are some of the worst wasters of water.

Hard choices await. All of us must change our mindset to focus on what we need, not on what we want. That is a tough message for developers and farmers in certain areas, but it is reality. And all of us living in the West must share the burden. All of us will lose some of what we have taken for granted. We cannot hope to ease the pain based on handouts from the government. Lifestyle changes are in order. There is no other viable option. That is the ultimate inconvenient truth.

Ben Palen, Denver

Comparing good debt vs. bad debt in government and personal spending

Re: “Boebert’s teapot tempest won’t fix Congress,” and “Proliferation of GoFundMes reveals a dirty little open secret,” Jan. 8 commentaries

A tale of two op-eds: Krista Kafer argues that since we are not adequately funding the too-large government (ballooning deficits), the answer is to shrink government. In an adjacent column, Naomi Ishisaka contends that “go-fund-me” appeals to support cancer victims indicate that society, through its government, isn’t doing enough. Who is correct?

Most of us believe that everyone, including the government, should live within our means. But conservatives focus only on the expenditure side of government deficits — asserting that the budget should be balanced only by cutting programs and that our tax burden that funds those programs is always excessive. In fact, good government strikes a balance between meeting the needs of society, which Ishisaka contends our government is not fully doing, and the ability of its society to finance that task. If there is imbalance, we must examine both the revenue and expenditure sides of the equation.

Other modern countries do a far better job of meeting societal needs, like education, health care, and combatting poverty, than we do. Yet we consider ourselves to be “the richest country on Earth.” I believe we can also afford to support cancer patients and career training like other countries do. Surely there are some programs that should be cut or scaled back, but, just as surely, Americans can afford to fund a government that aggressively supports the overall health of our society.

David Wolf, Lakewood

I share Krista Kafer’s cynicism about the prospects for the U.S. House of Representatives accomplishing anything other than providing a dreadful melodrama. Even so, I have a question about her statement, “Yearly debt ceiling debates are charades performed for the tiny percentage who actually give a damn .” I would like to know who those people are and why they care. I am not a financial wizard, but I have arrived at a time in my life when I can be debt free and pretty comfortable.

I used debt to my advantage. Debt allows people like me to buy homes to shelter our families. Debt allows people to purchase a decent set of clothes to wear to work and job interviews. Debt allowed me to buy a dependable car to make my long commute to my first job, which helped me pay off my debt. The purpose of going into debt is to make our lives more productive, more secure, and better able to provide for our families and futures.

Government debt is an investment in the lives of American families. Strong, healthy families are the foundation of our economy. There will always be debate about which kind of debt is the best investment in the future of the country, but I wonder, who is this” tiny percentage” who feels that staying out of debt is more important than investing in our future, and why do they feel that way? Kafer, explain, please.

Lynn Buschhoff, Denver

Good reads on a Sunday morning

Re: “The best places to cry in Denver,” Jan. 8 feature story

Whoa! Krista Kafer, you‘ve done it again. Spot on! And thank you, John Wenzel, I now have a place to cry!

Thank you, Denver Post! Even though we are on opposite sides politically, it was a good read this Sunday morning.

Kathy Turley, Centennial

Increase property tax on investors that gobble up inventory

Re: “Homelessness and housing crisis go hand in hand,” Jan. 8 commentary

According to past reports by your paper, an increasing percentage of single-family homes in metro Denver are being purchased by investors. Some of these investors are residents who own one investment property, and some are out-of-state private equity concerns. Either way, people who have the cash to own more than the house they live in are driving up the costs for those who just want to occupy their own homes, which contributes to the affordable housing crisis.

There is a simple solution — double or triple the taxes on homes that are not owner-occupied. Let’s have a community of neighbors, not investors.

This easily controlled problem is symptomatic of Denver being led by those who prioritize developers over citizens.

Susan Gamble, Denver

Seniors on fixed incomes in need of rent control

Re: “Pressure grows for state to reconsider rent caps,” Jan. 8 news story

For those of us who are senior citizens living in either 55+ apartments or retirement communities, we need rent controls.

This year we have received unconscionable rent increases. The raises are far above the COLA increase and above current inflation. We are concerned that we will outlive our money and become a burden to our children and our state.

Recently an article noted that more seniors than ever are heading into poverty. Is this how our state wants to care for their parents and grandparents? We realize that the corporations running retirement communities have faced serious increases in their costs, but they can recover more easily than seniors since most of us live on fixed incomes. We, too, have experienced huge losses.

We would like the legislature and the governor to pass legislation that would keep our rent increases to the COLA increase or less. We would also hope for a rent freeze when the rent on a unit is more than the current rate on comparable apartments.

I agree that if the state refuses to act, let local communities do it on their own. This is reaching a crisis level for seniors after two years of large rent increases. Many residents already have to find cheaper housing, which is costly physically and mentally.

We hope you will take this up early in the legislature and pass some laws this session.

Rochelle Padzensky, Denver

Mistake? Yes. Criminal act? No.

Re: “When is a mistake a crime,” Jan. 8 editorial

I read The Denver Post editorial about the LoDo incident with great interest. I came away thinking that the editorial board — even after months of reviewing the facts of the shooting — doesn’t appear to be 100% certain that Officer Brandon Ramos is actually a criminal.

I believe that what the board and the general public need to consider is that at the very moment of the LoDo incident, officer Ramos had less time to make a decision than it takes for an editor to type a single sentence. Nor did he have the luxury to perform like an on-site TV reporter who yells, “cut – let’s retape it” just to get it right.

Ramos appears to have made a mistake during an intense moment. But a criminal? I think not.

Denny Cannon, Littleton


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