The Water Education Foundation’s 2021 Colorado River Symposium
A Virtual Forum: Navigating Through Crisis
With the theme, Navigating Through Crisis, the virtual forum provided participants with an opportunity to hear the latest news on challenges facing this important river and to meet new federal and regional leadership in the Basin.
The Colorado River Basin is undergoing extraordinary and historic turmoil. Already plagued by more than 20 years of drought, officials and water users are experiencing unprecedented conditions fueled by climate change. A poor snowpack and extreme dryness have sent Lake Powell and Lake Mead plunging to record low elevations, prompting the first-ever shortage declaration to occur in 2022. Despite Drought Contingency Plans enacted just a few years ago, experts agree urgent actions will be required before the current set of operating guidelines expire in 2026.
Speakers at the event included Tanya Trujillo, the Interior Department’s assistant secretary for water and science; Camille Calimlim Touton, deputy commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and many others!
The afternoon’s sessions:
- Addressed on-the-ground impacts from the continuing drought that are related to water supply but perhaps not as widely considered such as hydropower, salinity and habitat restoration efforts.
- Focused on perspectives from water managers across the Colorado River Basin on how these impacts are being actively addressed and whether the Drought Contingency Plans will be sufficient to meet the current challenges.
- Plus, an update was provided from the Bureau of Reclamation on how plans are coming together for renegotiating the 2007 Interim Guidelines that expire at the end of 2025.
The biennial symposium has been held since 1997 and is part of the Water Education Foundation’s ongoing Colorado River Project, a public education program serving a broad audience from policy- and decision-makers to various stakeholders across the river’s watershed.