Serving as the “lifeline of the Southwest,” and one of the most heavily regulated rivers in the world, the Colorado River provides water to 35 million people and more than 4 million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000 square miles.
From its headwaters northwest of Denver in the Rocky Mountains, the 1,450-mile long river and its tributaries pass through parts of seven states: Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming and is also used by the Republic of Mexico. Along the way, almost every drop of the Colorado River is allocated for use.
The Colorado River Basin is also home to a range of habitats and ecosystems from mountain to desert to ocean.
Environmental protection for the Colorado River — the lifeblood of the Southwest — is disjointed and too often gets a low priority in the management of the waterway, independent researchers said in a new report.
In front of a small audience gathered last week at the Sunbrook event center in St. George, Tom Butine shared again the presentation he’s been making to groups throughout Washington County about the Lake Powell Pipeline. … Simultaneously the fastest-growing state in the nation and the second-driest, Utah is in line to face statewide challenges when it comes to supplying the long-term demand.
Nearly three years after the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians sued the Coachella Valley’s largest water districts, the two sides remain just as far apart in a case that could force changes in how water is managed locally and set a precedent for similar disputes nationwide.
The dramatic decline in water levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell is perhaps the most visible sign of the historic drought that has gripped the Colorado River Basin for the past 16 years. In 2000, the reservoirs stood at nearly 100 percent capacity; today, Lake Powell is at 49 percent capacity while Lake Mead has dropped to 38 percent. Before the late season runoff of Miracle May, it looked as if Mead might drop low enough to trigger the first-ever Lower Basin shortage determination in 2016.
Read the excerpt below from the Sept./Oct. 2015 issue along with the editor’s note. Click here to subscribe to Western Water and get full access.
For the second time in a decade, the feds are warning that if water interests in Arizona, California and Nevada can’t find a fix for the Colorado River’s problems, the interior secretary will find it for them.
This 3-day, 2-night tour traveled along the Lower Colorado River from Hoover Dam to the Salton Sea and the Coachella Valley. Along the way, experts discussed challenges related to what is the most contested, beloved for recreation and meticulously managed rivers in the nation.
The Colorado spill would have been avoided had the EPA team checked on water levels inside the inactive Gold King Mine before digging into its collapsed and leaking entrance, a team of engineers from Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation concluded in a 132-page report released Thursday.
On Thursday, a new federal forecast said El Niño is continuing to strengthen, with experts saying it’s on track to produce potentially record rainfall. … The forecast for a wet winter now covers the mountains that feed California’s most important reservoirs, Shasta Lake and Lake Oroville.
A coalition of scholars across the West is urging the federal government to partner with the National Academy of Sciences to study the future of the Colorado River, including if climate change is leading to reduced stream flow.
In a long-awaited decision, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management says Cadiz cannot use an existing railroad right-of-way for a new water pipeline that would carry supplies from the project’s proposed well field to the Colorado River Aqueduct.
Protracted drought over the last four years and nagging uncertainty over how Lake Powell will fare in 2016 are prompting a cash-for-conservation program to test how much water can be saved in the Colorado River.
Long gone are the luxury boats that drew stars inland from Hollywood to this accidental sea that first filled with Colorado River water after a massive 1905 canal breach. … The Southwest’s worsening water shortage will make saving the Salton Sea difficult, because any fix requires water from an over-stressed Colorado River.
The intake was unplugged Wednesday to finish flooding an $817 million tunnel and complete a complicated and perilous “Third Straw” project to draw drinking water for Las Vegas from a shrinking Lake Mead.
The Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday it will set up a temporary treatment plant for wastewater flowing from the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado after 3 million gallons surged out of the mine in August, tainting rivers in three states.
Documents released by U.S. officials have revealed that the Environmental Protection Agency knew of the potential for a blowout of toxic wastewater from a Colorado mine more than a year before a government cleanup team accidentally triggered such a release earlier this month.
The drought is expected to cost the state $2.7 billion in agriculture losses this year, but farmers in eastern Riverside County are faring well because of steady supplies from the Colorado River, according to the authors of a new economic forecast.
It will take many years and many millions of dollars simply to manage and not even remove the toxic wastewater from an abandoned mine that unleashed a 100-mile-long torrent of heavy metals into Western rivers and has likely reached Lake Powell, experts said.
[EPA Regional Administrator Shaun] McGrath said at a public meeting Sunday that officials had tripled the estimate of the toxic spill based on data from a U.S. Geological Survey water gauge downstream.
Water officials insist a pilot program designed to save Colorado River water and boost Lake Mead and Lake Powell is off to such a promising start that they are already looking to pour more money into it.
The St. George metro area measured as the fifth-fastest growing in the nation according to the latest U.S. Census estimates … Enter the Lake Powell Pipeline, a 140-mile conduit to the much larger Colorado River and at the moment perhaps the most hotly contested project planned along the river’s entire 1,450 miles.
Nearly 40 million people in seven states depend on the [Colorado] river, a population some forecasts say could nearly double in the next 50 years. … In the decades to come, federal officials say, significant shortages are likely to force water-supply cutbacks in parts of the basin, the first in the more than 90 years that the river has been managed under the 1922 Colorado River Compact.
Paul Matuska is the closest thing the American West has to a water cop, and his beat includes Needles, Calif., a beleaguered desert town midway between Flagstaff, Ariz., and Los Angeles. … Mr. Matuska, a hydrologist, is one of about a dozen accountants for the federal Bureau of Reclamation, which controls water distribution along the lower half of the Colorado River.
At a time when water levels in Lake Mead were getting so low that officials prepared for drastic cutbacks, it started raining. A series of powerful storms pummeled the mountains that feed the Colorado River, a key source of water for California, Arizona and Nevada.
San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow found that the MWD had charged San Diego too much for the use of its aqueduct to bring water from the Colorado River under San Diego’s deal to buy water from the Imperial Irrigation District.
Three U.S. water agencies have joined forces with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, paying $18 million toward the lining of a 10-mile stretch of the canal. In exchange, they will be receiving 124,000 acre-feet of water being stored by Mexico at Lake Mead.
“Killing the Colorado,” a joint reporting project by ProPublica and Matter, set out to tell the truth about the American West’s water crisis. … Four photographers — Christaan Felber, Bryan Schutmaat, Jake Stangel and Michael Friberg — were enlisted by photo editors Luise Stauss and Ayanna Quint to document man’s mistakes and their consequences.
It took $817 million, two starts, more than six years and one worker’s life to drill a so-called “Third Straw” to make sure glittery casinos and sprawling suburbs of Las Vegas can keep getting drinking water from near the bottom of drought-stricken Lake Mead.
The importance of water conservation during this record dry spell notwithstanding, sound water management turns out to be about a lot more than just water use. Today on Sea Change Radio, host Alex Wise speaks with Abrahm Lustgarten of ProPublica, who is writing a multi-part series exposing unfortunate policies and practices vis-à-vis our most precious, life-sustaining resource.
A couple of miles outside the town of Page, three 775-foot-tall caramel-colored smokestacks tower like sentries on the edge of northern Arizona’s sprawling red sandstone wilderness. At their base, the Navajo Generating Station, the West’s largest power-generating facility, thrums ceaselessly, like a beating heart.
This issue looks at the dilemma of the shrinking Salton Sea. The shallow, briny inland lake at the southeastern edge of California is slowly evaporating and becoming more saline – threatening the habitat for fish and birds and worsening air quality as dust from the dry lakebed is whipped by the constant winds.
The shallow, briny inland lake at the southeastern edge of California is slowly evaporating and becoming more saline – threatening the habitat for fish and birds and worsening air quality as dust from the dry lakebed is whipped by the constant winds.
(Read this excerpt from the May/June 2015 issue along with the editor’s note. Click here to subscribe to Western Water and get full access.)
With water levels in Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir and a bellwether for water supplies in the Southwest, setting a new record low every day, the seven states of the Colorado River Basin are finalizing a pair of novel water conservation agreements that will keep more water in the shrinking lake.
A vestige of 139-year-old water law pushes ranchers to use as much water as they possibly can, even during a drought. “Use it or lose it” clauses, as they are known, are common in state laws throughout the Colorado River basin and give the farmers, ranchers and governments holding water rights a powerful incentive to use more water than they need.
State Route 87, the thin band of pavement that approaches the mostly shuttered town of Coolidge, Ariz., cuts through some of the least hospitable land in the country. … Then Route 87 tacks left and the dead landscape springs to life.
The U.S. Drought Monitor said Thursday a series of recent storms have dropped up to four times the normal weekly rainfall in some areas of the West. However, three-quarters of the region remains in a long-term drought.
California’s drought emergency woes have worsened, with a shortage on the Colorado River next year becoming increasingly likely. Odds of a shortage rose from 33 percent to 50 percent from April 1 to May 1, Metropolitan Water District, Southern California’s largest water wholesaler, said Monday.
With more than 38 million people, a multibillion-dollar agricultural industry and a complex water system that relies on multiple sources, including the Colorado River, California’s problems are of a different magnitude than those Southern Nevada faced. But the steps taken here offer a road map to making the most out of every drop of water.
Pat Mulroy, a senior fellow with the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings and a senior fellow for climate adaptation and environmental policy at UNLV’s Brookings Mountain West, discusses the water scarcity issues that have developed over the last few decades and the realistic future of water in the U.S. … During her tenure at SNWA [Southern Nevada Water Authority], the region faced a huge crisis when one of the worst droughts in the history of the Colorado River hit the region.
Compared to California, things are better in the Colorado River Basin. However, after 15 years of drought, Lake Powell and Lake Mead are both below 45 percent full with basinwide snowpack below 70 percent as of April 1.
Las Vegas is seeking to quench its growing thirst by draining billions of gallons of water from under the feet of ranchers whose cattle help feed the Mormon church’s poor. A legal battle across 275 miles of treeless ridges and baked salt flats comes as the western U.S. faces unprecedented droughts linked to climate change.
St. George anchors Washington County, which has echoed Las Vegas’ growth boom since before the turn of the 21st century. … Meanwhile, Utah is using less than 1 million acre-feet a year from the Colorado River, according to the state.
Snowpack in the mountain valleys where the Colorado River originates was only a little below normal on Wednesday, marking one of the few bright spots in an increasingly grim drought gripping much of the West.
The Colorado River faces a dual threat from climate change as rising temperatures increase the demand for irrigation water and accelerate evaporation at the river’s two largest reservoirs. So says a new report from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation …
After much time, study and investment, the task of identifying solutions to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Colorado River is underway. People from the Upper and Lower basins representing all interest groups are preparing to put their signatures to documents aimed at ensuring the river’s vitality for the next 50 years and beyond.
For 56 days last spring, a unique pulse of water drawn from Hoover Dam’s Lake Mead coursed into Mexico to the Colorado River’s parched delta – once an ecological emerald set in the tawny expanse of the Sonoran Desert.
A binational effort aimed at reviving parched wetlands in the Colorado River Delta in Mexico through special deliveries of water has met with initial success, according to a report released Wednesday. … The water deliveries aimed at restoring some of the delta’s last remaining wetlands were outlined under a wide-ranging five-year binational agreement reached in 2012 and known as Minute 319.
With demand increasing across the West, Colorado is drawing up a strategy to keep some of the trillions of gallons of water that gushes out of the Rocky Mountains every spring – most of which flows downstream to drought-stricken California, Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. … [James] Eklund’s insistence on Colorado’s water rights drew diplomatic responses from his colleagues in other states on the eve of a Las Vegas meeting of water managers.
Facing dwindling water supplies, Western states are struggling to capture every drop with dam and diversion projects that some think could erode regional cooperation crucial to managing the scarce resource. Against that backdrop, eight Western governors meeting in Las Vegas this weekend will address regional water issues, and water managers from seven states arrive next week to work on ways to ensure 40 million people in the parched Colorado River basin don’t go thirsty.
[Richard] McFarland-Dorworth, a longtime California resident and rafting guide who now lives in Bali, Indonesia, was one of seven expert rafters on a 950-mile mission to replicate most of John Wesley Powell’s 1869 expedition down the Green and Colorado rivers from Flaming Gorge through Utah and Arizona to Lake Mead — sans most of the roiling waters of the pre-dam era.
A group of Italian developers is planning three million square feet of retail construction, plus 2,200 homes, in Tusayan, a newly incorporated village with a population of just 587 at the entrance to the park [Grand Canyon], posing what park officials describe as a major threat to the water supply for the Colorado River.
My partner DeEdda McLean and I had come to this area west of Mexican Hat, Utah, to kayak across Lake Powell, a reservoir formed by the confluence of the San Juan and the Colorado Rivers and the holding power of Glen Canyon Dam, which lies just over the border in Arizona. Yet in place of a majestic reservoir, we saw only the thin ribbon of a reemergent river channel, which had been inundated for most of the past three decades by the lake.
The Department of the Interior initiated its third high-flow release from Glen Canyon Dam today [Nov. 10] under an innovative science-based experimental protocol. The goal of the releases is to help restore the environment by creating flood-like conditions below Glen Canyon Dam, which rebuild sandbars that are important habitat and recreational resources.
The Bureau of Reclamation has released a report summarizing six years of testing coatings to control the attachment of quagga and zebra mussels to water and power facilities. … The testing was conducted at Parker Dam on the Colorado River.
Two water districts, the federal government, and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians are laying out their arguments in a lawsuit over water, focusing on the question of whether the tribe has rights to groundwater.
Faced with the increasing probability of shortage on the Colorado River, municipal water providers in Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado, and the Bureau of Reclamation are implementing a landmark Colorado River System Conservation program. … At a later date, water users in the Upper Basin will be invited to participate in this unique agreement.
One of the most extreme droughts in California’s history has been hitting agriculture hard, forcing cutbacks in water deliveries in parts of the Central Valley and leaving more than 400,000 acres of farmland fallow and dry.
This issue updates progress on crafting and implementing California’s 4.4 plan to reduce its use of Colorado River water by 800,000 acre-feet. The state has used as much as 5.2 million acre-feet of Colorado River water annually, but under pressure from Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt and the other six states that share this resource, California’s Colorado River parties have been trying to close the gap between demand and supply. The article – delayed to include the latest information from Babbitt’s Dec.
This issue updates progress on California’s Colorado River Water Use Plan (commonly called the 4.4 Plan ), with a special focus on the Salton Sea restoration/water transfer dilemma. It also includes information on the proposed MWD-Palo Verde Irrigation District deal, the Colorado River Delta, and the legislative debate in the national and state capitals.
With passage of the original Dec. 31, 2002, deadline to have a Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA) in place for the Colorado River, California suffered a cutback in the surplus Colorado River flows it had relied upon by years. Further negotiations followed in an attempt to bring the California parties to an agreement. This issue examines the history leading to the QSA, the state of affairs of the so-called 4.4 Plan as of early March, and gives readers a clearer crystal ball with which to speculate about California’s water future on the Colorado River.
This issue of Western Water provides the latest information on some of the philosophical, political and practical ideas being discussed on the river. Some of these issues were discussed at the Water Education Foundation’s Colorado River Symposium, “The Ties that Bind: Policy and the Evolving Law of the Colorado River,” held last fall at The Bishop’s Lodge in Santa Fe, New Mexico – site of negotiations on the 1922 Colorado River Compact.
This issue of Western Water explores the issues surrounding and the components of the Colorado River Basin seven-state proposed agreement released Feb. 3 regarding sharing shortages on the river, and new plans to improve the river’s management. The article includes excerpts from the Foundation’s September 2005 Colorado River Symposium held in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
This issue of Western Water marks the 85th anniversary of the Colorado River Compact and considers its role in the past and present on key issues such as federal funding for water projects and international issues. Much of the content for this magazine came from the Foundation’s September Colorado River Symposium, The Colorado River Compact at 85 and Changes on the River.
This card includes information about the Colorado River, who uses the river, how the river’s water is divided and other pertinent facts about this vital resource for the Southwest. Beautifully illustrated with color photographs.
In 1997, the Foundation sponsored a three-day, invitation-only symposium at Bishop’s Lodge, New Mexico, site of the 1922 Colorado River Compact signing, to discuss the historical implications of that agreement, current Colorado River issues and future challenges. The 204-page proceedings features the panel discussions and presentations on such issues as the Law of the River, water marketing and environmental restoration.
30-minute DVD that traces the history of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and its role in the development of the West. Includes extensive historic footage of farming and the construction of dams and other water projects, and discusses historic and modern day issues.
This 24×36 inch poster, suitable for framing, illustrates the water resources available for Nevada cities, agriculture and the environment. It features natural and manmade water resources throughout the state, including the Truckee and Carson rivers, Lake Tahoe, Pyramid Lake and the course of the Colorado River that forms the state’s eastern boundary.
Redesigned in 2017, this beautiful map depicts the seven Western states that share the Colorado River with Mexico. The Colorado River supplies water to nearly 40 million people in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming and the country of Mexico. Text on this beautiful, 24×36-inch map, which is suitable for framing, explains the river’s apportionment, history and the need to adapt its management for urban growth and expected climate change impacts.
The 28-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Rights Law, recognized as the most thorough explanation of California water rights law available to non-lawyers, traces the authority for water flowing in a stream or reservoir, from a faucet or into an irrigation ditch through the complex web of California water rights.
The 20-page Layperson’s Guide to Water Marketing provides background information on water rights, types of transfers and critical policy issues surrounding this topic. First published in 1996, the 2000 version offers expanded information on groundwater banking and conjunctive use … Colorado River transfers, CALFED’s Water Transfer Program and the role of private companies in California’s developing water market.
Order in bulk (25 or more copies of the same guide) for a reduced fee. Contact the Foundation, 916-444-6240, for details.
The Colorado River provides water to more than 35 million people and 4 million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000 square miles in the southwestern United States. The 32-page Layperson’s Guide to the Colorado River covers the history of the river’s development; negotiations over division of its water; the items that comprise the Law of the River; and a chronology of significant Colorado River events.
The 24-page Layperson’s Guide to California Water provides an excellent overview of the history of water development and use in California. It includes sections on flood management; the state, federal and Colorado River delivery systems; Delta issues; water rights; environmental issues; water quality; and options for stretching the water supply such as water marketing and conjunctive use.
A new look for our most popular product! And it’s the perfect gift for the water wonk in your life.
Our 24×36 inch California Water Map is widely known for being the definitive poster that shows the integral role water plays in the state. On this updated version, it is easier to see California’s natural waterways and man-made reservoirs and aqueducts – including federally, state and locally funded projects – the wild and scenic rivers system, and natural lakes. The map features beautiful photos of California’s natural environment, rivers, water projects, wildlife, and urban and agricultural uses and the text focuses on key issues: water supply, water use, water projects, the Delta, wild and scenic rivers and the Colorado River.
As part of the historic Colorado River Delta, the Salton Sea regularly filled and dried for thousands of years due to its elevation of 232 feet below sea level.
The most recent version of the Salton Sea was formed in 1905 when the Colorado River broke through a series of dikes and flooded the seabed for two years, creating California’s largest inland body of water. The Salton Sea, which is saltier than the Pacific Ocean, includes 130 miles of shoreline and is larger than Lake Tahoe.
The Quantification Settlement Agreement defines the rights to a portion of Colorado River water for four water districts in Southern California. It also provides for a water transfer between the Imperial Valley and San Diego for 35 years–the largest agricultural to urban water transfer in the United States.
The Mexican Water Treaty of 1944 committed the U.S. to deliver 1.5 million acre-feet of water to Mexico on an annual basis, plus an additional 200,000 acre-feet under surplus conditions. The treaty is overseen by the International Boundary and Water Commission.
Colorado River water is delivered to Mexico at Morelos Dam, located 1.1 miles downstream from where the California-Baja California land boundary intersects the river between the town of Los Algodones in northwestern Mexico and Yuma County, Ariz.
The Mexican Delta is located at the natural terminus of the Colorado River at the Gulf of Mexico, just south of the U.S.-Mexico border. The desert ecosystem was formed by silt flushed downstream from the Colorado and fresh and brackish water mixing at the Gulf.
The Mexican Delta once covered 9,650 square miles but has shrunk to less than 1 percent of its original size due to man-made water diversions.
The Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program aims to balance use of Colorado River water resources with the conservation of native species and their habitat. A key component of this process is restoring approximately 1,200 acres of riparian and marsh habitats along the lower Colorado River.
Lee Ferry on the Arizona-Utah border is a key dividing point between the Colorado River’s Upper and Lower basins.
This split is important when it comes to determining how much water will be delivered from the Upper Basin to the Lower Basin [for a description of the Upper and Lower basins visit the Colorado River page].
John Wesley Powell (1834-1902) was historic and heroic for being first to lead an expedition down the Colorado River in 1869. A major who lost an arm in the Civil War Battle of Shiloh, he was an explorer, geologist, geographer and ethnologist.
California’s Colorado River Water Use Plan (known colloquially as the 4.4 Plan) intends to wean the state from its reliance on the surplus flows from the river and return California to its annual 4.4 million acre-feet basic apportionment of the river.
In the past, California has also used more than its basic apportionment. Consequently, the U.S. Department of Interior urged California to devise a plan to reduce its water consumption to its basic entitlement.
In December 2007, the federal government and the seven states of the Colorado River Basin established guidelines for coordinated operation of Lakes Powell and Mead under low-reservoir conditions and for shortage allocations among the Lower Basin states. An ongoing severe drought and potential for a major shortfall in supplies led to the agreement.
This printed issue of Western Water examines how the various stakeholders have begun working together to meet the planning challenges for the Colorado River Basin, including agreements with Mexico, increased use of conservation and water marketing, and the goal of accomplishing binational environmental restoration and water-sharing programs.
The Colorado River is one of the most heavily relied upon water supply sources in the world, serving 35 million people in seven states and Mexico. The river provides water to large cities, irrigates fields, powers turbines to generate electricity, thrills recreational enthusiasts and serves as a home for birds, fish and wildlife.
This printed issue of Western Water explores the historic nature of some of the key agreements in recent years, future challenges, and what leading state representatives identify as potential “worst-case scenarios.” Much of the content for this issue of Western Water came from the in-depth panel discussions at the Colorado River Symposium. The Foundation will publish the full proceedings of the Symposium in 2012.
This printed issue of Western Water examines the Colorado River drought, and the ongoing institutional and operational changes underway to maintain the system and meet the future challenges in the Colorado River Basin.
This printed issue of Western Water explores some of the major challenges facing Colorado River stakeholders: preparing for climate change, forging U.S.-Mexico water supply solutions and dealing with continued growth in the basins states. Much of the content for this issue of Western Water came from the in-depth panel discussions at the September 2009 Colorado River Symposium.
This printed copy of Western Water examines the Colorado River Delta, its ecological significance and the lengths to which international, state and local efforts are targeted and achieving environmental restoration while recognizing the needs of the entire river’s many users.
This issue of Western Water asks whether a groundwater compact is needed to manage this shared resource today. In the water-stressed West, there will need to be a recognition of sharing water resources or a line will need to be drawn in the sand against future growth.
“In the West, when you touch water, you touch everything.” – Rep. Wayne Aspinall, D-Colorado, chair, House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, 1959-1973
Rapid population growth and chronic droughts could augur dramatic changes for communities along the lower Colorado River. In Arizona, California and Nevada, a robust economy is spurring communities to find enough water to sustain the steady pace of growth. Established cities such as Las Vegas and Phoenix continue their expansion but there is also activity in smaller, rural areas on Arizona’s northwest fringe where developers envision hundreds of thousands of new homes in the coming decades.
With interstate discussions of critical Colorado River issues seemingly headed for stalemate, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton stepped in May 2 to defuse, or at least defer, a potentially divisive debate over water releases from Lake Powell.
With interstate discussions of critical Colorado River issues seemingly headed for stalemate, Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton stepped in May 2 to defuse, or at least defer, a potentially divisive debate over water releases from Lake Powell. In a letter to governors of the seven Colorado River Basin states, Norton preserved the status quo of river operations for five months, giving states and stakeholders a chance to move back from the edge before positions had hardened on two key issues: (1) shortage guidelines for the Lower Basin and (2) Upper Basin/ Lower Basin reservoir operations, particularly at Lake Powell. But Norton served notice that she wants discussions on those two issues to continue, possibly outside of the annual operation plan (AOP) consultation process, which at least one observer described as unwieldy.
Drawn from a special Colorado River stakeholder symposium held in January 2002 at The Bishop’s Lodge in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this article provides an overview of several Colorado River issues that may or may not be resolved through consensus. Some of these issues include providing water for the Colorado River Delta, endangered species, dam re-operation and potential future trends around the basin as they relate to the California 4.4 Plan, drought and governance.
The situation is true anywhere: when resources are stretched, tensions rise. In the arid Southwestern United States, this resource is water and tensions over it have been ever present since the westward migration in the 18th Century. Nowhere in this region has the competition for water been fiercer than in the Colorado River Basin. Whether it is more water for agriculture, more water for cities, more water for American Indian tribes or more water for the environment – there is a continuous quest by parties to obtain additional supplies of this “liquid gold” from the Colorado River. Sometimes the avenue chosen to acquire this desert wealth is the court system, as exemplified by the landmark Arizona v. California dispute that stretched for over 30 years.
Drawn from a special stakeholder symposium held in September 1999 in Keystone, Colorado, this issue explores how we got to where we are today on the Colorado River; an era in which the traditional water development of the past has given way to a more collaborative approach that tries to protect the environment while stretching available water supplies. Specific topics addressed include the role of the Interior secretary in the basin, California’s 4.4 plan, water marketing and future challenges identified by participants.
Drawn from a special stakeholder symposium held in September 1999 in Keystone, Colorado, this issue explores how we got to where we are today on the Colorado River; an era in which the traditional water development of the past has given way to a more collaborative approach that tries to protect the environment while stretching available water supplies.