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.
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.