Watershed Info No 1227

Daniel Salzler                                                                                 No. 1227                                                             

EnviroInsight.org                    Four Items                       November 3, 2023     

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1. New Arizona Water Conservation Agreements Enough To Raise Lake More Than 2 Feet. Greg Haas NewsNow.com

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The federal government will pay nearly $64 million in a three-year conservation effort to save water that will be stored in Lake Mead, according to a Friday announcement.

It’s the latest move by the Biden-Harris administration to ensure water supplies in the desert Southwest, where the Colorado River supplies water for people in Nevada, Arizona and California.

If all the water instantly appeared in Lake Mead, it would raise the lake by 2 feet, 2 and a half inches. But it will take three years to see that savings, according to the announcement made in Phoenix. The funds are from the Inflation Reduction Act, described as the largest climate investment in history.

At Lake Mead, 1 inch equals 2 billion gallons

A total of 162,710 acre-feet could be saved in the agreement with seven participants that include water districts, Native American tribes and a farm. The participants are listed below with the anticipated three-year water savings in parentheses:

  • Yuma Mesa Irrigation and Drainage District (72,477 acre-feet)
  • Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District (42,303)
  • San Carlos Apache Tribe (23,275)
  • Hopi Tribe (9,177)
  • Cibola Valley Irrigation and Drainage District (8,100)
  • Spanish Trails Water (7,200)
  • Cathcart Farms (178)

An acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre in water a foot deep. It is enough water to supply two to three households for an entire year. An acre-foot is equal to 325,581 gallons.

Divided over three years, the amount of water saved by the new agreements are enough to supply about 108,000 to 162,000 households each year.

The $63.4 million provided through the Lower Colorado River Basin System Conservation and Efficiency Program will help pay for voluntary system conservation efforts.

The biggest savings come from the Yuma Mesa Irrigation and Drainage District, which supplies water to 25,000 acres at the U.S.-Mexico border, and the Mohave Valley Irrigation and Drainage District, which provides water to the Fort Mohave area, extending from south of Bullhead City to the Needles, California, area.

“Addressing the drought crisis requires an all-hands-on-deck moment, and close collaboration among federal, state, Tribal and local communities. We are excited to see so many Arizona entities committing to system conservation and partnership,” Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Calimlim Touton said. “Together, we can come together to find solutions to meet the challenges of these unprecedented drought conditions.”

An official with the U.S. Department of the Interior said Oct. 25 that conservation agreements reached with Nevada, Arizona and California have reduced the risk of critically low water levels at Lake Powell and Lake Mead through 2026. That gives the Bureau of Reclamation the time it needs to put new policies in place to manage the Colorado River as it flows through the two largestcreseroirs in the U.S.

2. People Don’t Have The Imagination To Distinguish Million from Billion. 1 million seconds is 11 days.  1 billion seconds is 31.5 years.

3. Scientists Finally Solve 390 Million-Year-Old ‘Murder Mystery’ From An Ancient Supercontinent .  By Harry Baker published October 26, 2023

Researchers mapped out “cake-like” fossil layers belonging to a group of ancient marine creatures from the supercontinent Gondwana that mysteriously died off 390 million years ago.

The supercontinent Gondwana was located around Earth’s South Pole for around 420 million years. (Image credit: Wikimedia/Fama Clamosa)

Researchers have finally figured out what happened to a group of marine animals that died out on the ancient supercontinent Gondwana — and the finger points squarely at climate change. 

It turns out that the so-called Malvinoxhosan biota — an ancient group of water-dwelling animals — disappeared from Gondwana over a period of 5 million years because sea levels gradually lowered, a new study, published Oct. 13 in the journal Earth-Science Reviews, found. And the climate change that wiped out this animal group has disturbing parallels to the changes happening today.

The cause of their disappearance had “remained an enigma for nearly two centuries until now,” study lead author Cameron Penn-Clarke, an evolutionary scientist at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, said in a statement. “It’s a 390-million-year-old murder mystery.”

At the time of the extinction, the area near the South Pole was home to Gondwana, which comprised parts of what is now Africa, South America, Australia, Antarctica, the Indian 

subcontinent and the Arabian Peninsula. Gondwana formed around 600 million years ago with the breakup of supercontinent Pangaea and began to split apart around 180 million years ago. 

Gondwana was home to a wide variety of plants and animals. But some of its least understood residents were the Malvinoxhosan biota. This group, which lived in waters covering what is now South Africa, mainly included trilobites and bivalve-like brachiopods, as well as some mollusks and echinoderms. But they all mysteriously died off between 390 million and 385 million years ago. 

Related: Zealandia, Earth’s hidden continent, was torn from supercontinent Gondwana in flood of fire 100 million years ago

Trilobites were one of the most abundant creatures in the Malvinoxhosan biota. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

To get to the bottom of this cold case, the team reanalyzed hundreds of fossils belonging to the Malvinoxhosan biota, paying particular attention to the location, depth and geological properties of the rocks that each fossil was found in. This enabled them to piece together a timeline of what happened to the region by sorting it into layers, kind of like “sorting through the layers of a cake,” according to the statement.  


The team found seven to eight key fossil layers of the Malvinoxhosan biota. With each newly added layer of the “cake,” the number and diversity of fossils decreased. 

After comparing the fossil layers to local sea level data, the researchers noticed that each of the layers corresponded to slight sea level decreases, which turned out to be the “smoking gun” for these extinction events, Penn-Clarke said. These decreases didn’t dry up the oceans where these animals lived but likely triggered climatic changes that the creatures could not adapt to.

The researchers think the Malvinoxhosan biota had evolved to survive in cool waters. But the drop in sea level disrupted ocean currents around the South Pole known as “circumpolar thermal barriers,” which enabled warmer water from the equator to mix with colder southern waters. As a result, the Malvinoxhosan biota “were replaced by more generalist marine species that are well-adapted to warmer waters,” Penn-Clarke said.

Related: Mammals may be driven to extinction by volcanic new supercontinent Pangaea Ultima

The extinction of the Malvinoxhosan biota likely “led to a complete collapse” of the ecosystem around the South Pole. It still has not fully recovered those historic levels of biodiversity, the researchers wrote.The team also thinks that this historic extinction mirrors what is happening to today’s polar ecosystems as a result of human-caused climate change.

“This research is important when we consider the biodiversity crisis we are facing in the present day,” Penn-Clarke said. “It demonstrates the sensitivity of polar environments and ecosystems to changes in sea level and temperature,” he added. “Any changes that occur are, unfortunately, permanent.”

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