The construction of Glen Canyon Dam in north-central Arizona also
created Lake Powell. Lake Powell serves as a holding tank for the
Colorado River Upper Basin States: Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and
It’s a crisis nearly 100 years in the making: Seven states —
all reliant on a single mighty river as a vital source of water
— failed to reach an agreement this week on how best
to reduce their use of supplies from the rapidly shrinking
Colorado River. At the heart of the feud is the “Law of
the River,” a body of agreements, court decisions, contracts
and decrees that govern the river’s use and date back to 1922,
when the Colorado River Compact first divided river
flows among the states. But as California argues most
strongly for strict adherence to this system of water
apportionment, the other states say it makes little sense when
the river’s largest reservoir, Lake Mead, continues to decline
toward “dead pool” level, which would effectively cut off the
Southwest from its water lifeline. The Law of the River, they
say, is getting in the way of a solution.
Snowpack has been running well above average this winter across
the Colorado River watershed. It’s a rare bright spot after 23
years of grinding megadrought brought the driest conditions in
1,200 years to the basin that supplies 40 million people in
Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah,
Wyoming, and Mexico. Should the generous rains and mountain
snows continue into spring, they would head off a deeper water
crisis, including perhaps an unprecedented loss of hydropower
generation from severely depleted Lake Powell and Lake Mead. As
of August 2022, chances that such a loss of generation, known
as a “minimum power pool,” could happen by late 2023 had risen
to an alarming 30%, according to calculations released by the
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Autumn and early winter
moisture has now pushed those odds back below 10% as of the
January update from the bureau.
With the recent expiration of a federal deadline, California
now finds itself sharply at odds with six other states over how
to take less water from the shrinking Colorado River. After
rejecting a plan offered by the rest of the region, California
has entered a political tug-of-war with high stakes. So why has
the state that uses the most Colorado River water decided to go
it alone? California appears to be banking on its high-priority
senior water rights, while the other states are presenting a
united front to show the federal government they support a plan
that would have California give up more water. … The
parties are at an impasse as the federal government begins to
weigh alternatives for rapidly reducing water use and
preventing the river’s reservoirs from reaching dangerously low
Lake Powell, like its downstream neighbor Lake Mead, stands at
a quarter of its full capacity. An increasingly arid climate,
high demand from thirsty agriculture, and the bad math embedded
in the century-old compact that divides the Colorado River’s
water have shrunk the two reservoirs to levels not seen since
they were first filling. On Lake Powell’s new shoreline, old
boat propellers lie in the dust along with scads of sunglasses.
Red plastic drinking cups, some bearing names scrawled in
Sharpie, have yellowed to the color of piano ivory. At
its low point last year, Lake Powell’s surface was only 32 feet
above operating levels for Glen Canyon Dam’s hydropower
intakes, reducing the dam’s power output by half.
California and other Western states that import water from the
parched Colorado River failed to reach an agreement today on
how to cut their use despite a deadline from federal officials.
Six states presented the federal government with a proposal to
slash the lower basin’s use by 2.9 million acre-feet from their
historic allotments— including more than 1 million acre-feet
from California, or 25% of its entitlements. But California,
the largest user of Colorado River water, refused to sign onto
the proposal and, instead, hours later issued its own — which
mirrors its offer last fall to cut imports by 9%, or 400,000
acre feet. The impasse is over water delivered to
Imperial Valley farmers and cities in six Southern California
The seven states that depend on the Colorado River have missed
a Jan. 31 federal deadline for reaching a regionwide consensus
on how to sharply reduce water use, raising the likelihood of
more friction as the West grapples with how to take less
supplies from the shrinking river. In a bid to sway the process
after contentious negotiations reached an impasse, six of the
seven states gave the federal government a last-minute proposal
outlining possible water cuts to help prevent reservoirs from
falling to dangerously low levels, presenting a unified front
while leaving out California, which uses the single largest
share of the river. The six states — Arizona, Colorado, Nevada,
New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — called their proposal a
“consensus-based modeling alternative” that could serve as a
framework for negotiating a solution.
In the fall of 1956, President Dwight Eisenhower touched a
telegraph key in the White House Cabinet Room to trigger a
dynamite blast 1,900 miles to the west, marking the start of
construction on the Glen Canyon Dam. More than six decades
later, conservation advocates and environmentalists are hoping
the Biden administration will set an implosion in motion —
albeit a metaphorical one — this time mothballing the 710-foot
dam on the Colorado River in northern Arizona. … Modern
critics of the Glen Canyon Dam — which has never lacked for
detractors, dating to early denunciations that the structure
changed the ecology of the river and drowned canyons and Native
American artifacts when the reservoir filled — see new momentum
to circumvent the structure and drain Lake Powell.
Competing priorities, outsized demands and the federal
government’s retreat from a threatened deadline stymied a deal
last summer on how to drastically reduce water use from the
parched Colorado River, emails obtained by The Associated Press
show. … Reclamation wanted the seven U.S. states that rely on
the river to decide how to cut 2 million to 4 million acre-feet
of water — or up to roughly one-third — on top of already
anticipated reductions. … California says it’s a partner
willing to sacrifice, but other states see it as a reluctant
participant clinging to a water priority system where it ranks
near the top. Arizona and Nevada have long felt they’re
unfairly forced to bear the brunt of cuts because of a water
rights system developed long ago, a simmering frustration that
reared its head during talks.
The seven states that rely on water from the shrinking Colorado
River are unlikely to agree to voluntarily make deep reductions
in their water use, negotiators say, which would force the
federal government to impose cuts for the first time in the
water supply for 40 million Americans. The Interior Department
had asked the states to voluntarily come up with a plan by Jan.
31 to collectively cut the amount of water they draw from the
Colorado. … Negotiators say the odds of a voluntary agreement
appear slim. It would be the second time in six months that the
Colorado River states, which also include Colorado, New Mexico,
Utah and Wyoming, have missed a deadline for consensus on cuts
sought by the Biden administration to avoid a catastrophic
failure of the river system.
Over the last several years, managers of water agencies have
reached deals to take less water from the river. But those
reductions haven’t been nearly enough to halt the river’s
spiral toward potential collapse. As Lake Mead, the nation’s
largest reservoir, continues to decline toward “dead pool”
levels, the need to rein in water demands is growing urgent.
Efforts to adapt will require difficult decisions about how to
deal with the reductions and limit the damage to communities,
the economy and the river’s already degraded ecosystems.
Adapting may also drive a fundamental rethinking of how the
river is managed and used, redrawing a system that is out of
balance. This reckoning with the reality of the river’s limits
is about to transform the landscape of the Southwest.
Hefty snowfalls from a series of atmospheric rivers have
brought a slightly rosier outlook for the beleaguered Colorado
River. While not enough to fend off the falling water levels
entirely, the snow that has dropped in recent weeks across the
mountains that feed the river is expected to slow the decline
at Lake Mead, according to the latest federal projections
released last week. Forecasters now expect Lake Mead to finish
this year around 1,027 feet elevation, about 19 feet lower than
its current level. That’s about 7 feet higher than the 2023
end-of-year elevation in the bureau’s forecast from last month.
As for Lake Powell, the reservoir located on the Utah-Arizona
border is now expected to finish 2023 at 3,543 feet, or 16 feet
higher than last month’s forecast and about 19 feet higher than
its current level.
Record snowfall has come to Arizona. It hasn’t even melted yet,
and already there’s an extra 100,000 acre-feet of water in Salt
River Project’s reservoirs since Jan. 1. Meanwhile, snowpack
across the Colorado River basin is well above normal, and while
it’s still too early to know how runoff will shape up, some
researchers have begun to raise their expectations for a better
year. So, we can ease up, right? Maybe we won’t need to stop
using nearly as much water this year, as predicted, to keep
Lake Mead and Lake Powell on life support? … The feds
told the seven Colorado River basin states last summer that
they needed to stop using at least 2 million
acre-feet of water this year. … But state delegates
are back at it again, hoping to reach some sort of voluntary
deal by the end of this month. -Written by Arizona Republic columnist Joanna
We’re getting a peek at the future of our economy. The Las
Vegas Chamber hosted Preview Las Vegas Monday. Key Colorado
River state leaders address Southern Nevada’s water issues. One
of the main focuses of Preview Las Vegas this year was the
water supply for Southern Nevada. The biggest take away?
Colorado river states are working together as one to combat the
water crisis. … At Monday’s panel discussion, talk
turned to the importance of a partnership with California’s
regional recycling system. The agency is evaluating a
restoration process that one day could send water back to
Colorado River using states. But for now, the project’s
targeted start date isn’t until 2030.
At their Jan. 17 meeting, Grand County commissioners heard a
presentation from Lily Bosworth, staff engineer for the
Colorado River Authority of Utah, on a water conservation pilot
program. The Colorado River Authority of Utah was established
by the Utah State Legislature in 2021. Ongoing drought and
growing evidence that the river cannot support the demand being
placed on it by users have strained water infrastructure,
policies and agreements across the Southwest; the stated
mission of the Colorado River Authority is to “protect,
preserve, conserve, and develop Utah’s Colorado River system
interests.” The Authority is overseen by a six-member board as
well as the governor.
Officials involved in the talks over how to cut Colorado River
water use amid a historic drought say they’re optimistic a
consensus will be reached by states before a Feb. 1 deadline
even though the negotiations are in a delicate place. If the
seven Western states don’t reach consensus, the Interior
Department’s Bureau of Reclamation will consider mandating
water cuts—a move the states are working feverishly to avoid.
More than likely, “we’re going to end up with some kind of
hybrid outcome in which we have agreement in part, and some
mandatory imposed outcomes from the federal government,” said
Tom Buschatzke …
Across the sun-cooked flatlands of the Imperial Valley, water
flows with uncanny abundance. The valley, which straddles the
U.S.-Mexico border, is naturally a desert. Yet canals here are
filled with water, lush alfalfa grows from sodden soil and rows
of vegetables stretch for miles. … But now, as a
record-breaking megadrought and endless withdrawals wring the
Colorado River dry, Imperial Valley growers will have to cut
back on the water they import. The federal government has told
seven states to come up with a plan by Jan. 31 to reduce their
water supply by 30%, or 4 million acre feet. The Imperial
Valley is by far the largest user of water in the Colorado
River’s lower basin — consuming more water than all of Arizona
and Nevada combined in 2022 — so growers there will have to
find ways to sacrifice the most.
The survival — or at least the basic sustenance — of hundreds
in a desert community amid the horse ranches and golf courses
outside Phoenix now rests on a 54-year-old man with a plastic
bucket of quarters. John Hornewer picked up a quarter and put
it in the slot. The lone water hose at a remote public filling
station sputtered to life and splashed 73 gallons into the
steel tank of … Some living here amid the cactus
and creosote bushes see themselves as the first domino to fall
as the Colorado River tips further into crisis. On
Jan. 1, the city of Scottsdale, which gets the majority of its
water from the Colorado River, cut off Rio Verde Foothills from
the municipal water supply that it has relied on for
decades. … [T]he federal government is now pressing
seven states to cut 2 to 4 million acre-feet more, up to 30
percent of the river’s annual average flow.
At the end of last year, the seven states in the Colorado River
Basin committed to once again work together and negotiate a
consensus framework for making significant cuts to water use,
an attempt to stabilize the nation’s two largest reservoirs and
avoid an even deeper shortage crisis. The states recommitted to
considering a consensus deal, by Jan. 31, after several
deadlines passed in 2022 — with seemingly irreconcilable
differences over how to make painful cuts in a watershed relied
upon by 40 million people who use the river for drinking water
and agriculture. …… Of note was the comment letter from
Nevada, which outlined a possible framework to achieve
consensus. It was the only state-led letter that suggested a
comprehensive framework. In fact, two other letters
specifically refer to the Nevada plan as a starting point for
the state discussions….
As Lake Mead continues to decline toward dead pool, federal
officials are requesting the Colorado River states to
offer major cuts in water usage. Nevada has responded with a
detailed and innovative plan set forth in a December 20,
2022 letter to the Bureau of Reclamation, calling for
basic reform of water management throughout the entire Colorado
River system. … Arizona and California have not responded in
public. They remain on the sidelines, unable to
summon the political will to either agree or to propose an
alternative. The reason Arizona and California are
internally deadlocked can be summed up in one word:
agriculture. Irrigated agriculture uses more than 70 percent
of the water allocated to the two states from Lake
Mead. -Written by Bruce Babbitt, an attorney and politician
from the state of Arizona, and President Bill Clinton’s
secretary of the Interior from 1993 to 2001.
The recent atmospheric river that brought record rainfall and
snow to parts of the west coast also boosted Colorado’s
mountain snowfall totals. Several rounds of heavy snowfall like
the mountains have recently seen is the dream of every skier
and snowboarder, and it’s also a big help to the state’s
drought conditions. This boost helped Steamboat Springs
become the first resort of the season to surpass the benchmark.
It now has 225 inches so far this season. Ski areas like
Silverton and Winter Park aren’t too far from hitting 200 with
about 167 inches so far. Places like Wolf Cree, Breckenridge,
and Keystone have also seen some impressive totals for this
point in the season.
The Colorado River can no longer withstand the thirst of the
arid West. Water drawn from the river flows to more than 40
million people in cities from Denver to Los Angeles and
irrigates more than 4 million acres of farmland. For
decades, the river has been entirely used up, leaving dusty
stretches of desert where it once flowed to the sea in Mexico.
Now, chronic overuse and the effects of climate change are
pushing the river system toward potential collapse as
reservoirs drop to dangerously low levels. … Colorado River
in Crisis is a series of stories, videos and podcasts in which
Los Angeles Times journalists travel throughout the river’s
watershed, from the headwaters in the Rocky Mountains to the
river’s dry delta in Mexico.
In October 2022, water agencies in Southern California with
Colorado River water rights announced plans to reduce water
diversions. The agencies offered voluntary conservation of
400,000 acre-feet per year through 2026. This annual total is
nearly 10% of the state’s total annual usage rights for the
Colorado River. The cutbacks help prepare for long-term
implications of climate change for the river’s management,
which are starting to be acknowledged. In urban Southern
California, an important aspect of this need is reducing
imported water reliance through investments in local water
resources. … What would happen if Southern California
lost access to Colorado River water for an extended period?
The Rocky Mountains snow season is off to a well-above-average
start thanks to a recent surge of stormy weather across the
West. But whether it will be enough to buoy levels at Lake Mead
and along the Colorado River remains to be seen. The Upper
Colorado River Basin snowpack currently sits at 140 percent of
the median over the last 30 years, according to data from the
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. That’s in large part due to a
recent series of atmospheric river storm systems that swept
across much of the West right after Christmas, dumping ample
amounts of snow and rain.
Registration for the Foundation’s early 2023 programming
is right around the corner. Don’t miss the
once-a-year opportunities for our Water 101
Workshop in February and our Lower Colorado
River Tour in March. Mark your calendars now for the
week of Jan. 9
when registration will open for both events.
… One of our most popular annual events,
our Water 101 Workshop + optional 1-day tour returns
Feb. 23 & 24 to detail the history, geography, legal
and political facets of water in California as well as hot
topics of the moment…. Our annual Lower Colorado
River Tour returns March 8-10 when we take
you from Hoover Dam to the Mexican border and through
the Imperial and Coachella valleys to learn about the
challenges and opportunities facing the “Lifeline of the
Snowpack levels crucial to water supplies in the Colorado River
basin have been rising over the past week as storms hit the
Rocky Mountains. Dec. 27 measurements of 102% snowpack in the
region — just above normal — had risen to 142% as of today
(Jan. 3) in the Upper Colorado River Basin. That week-to-week
change is good news but demonstrates the volatility of snowpack
levels. Just as rainfall makes little to no impact on the level
of Lake Mead, snowpack levels in early January shouldn’t be
seen as a sign that a few snowstorms will erase years of
drought, experts say. Kyle Roerink, executive director of
the conservation group Great Basin Water Network, said
long-term forecasts showed river flows expected to be about 87%
between now and April.
Nevada water managers have submitted a plan for cutting
diversions by 500,000 acre-feet in a last-ditch effort to shore
up flows on the Colorado River before low water levels cause
critical problems at Glen Canyon and Hoover dams. But the
Silver State’s plan targets cuts in Utah and the river’s other
Upper Basin states, not in Nevada, whose leaders contend it
already is doing what it can to reduce reliance on the depleted
river system that provides water to 40 million in the West.
When the Colorado River Compact was
signed 100 years ago, the negotiators for seven Western states
bet that the river they were dividing would have ample water to
meet everyone’s needs – even those not seated around the table.
A century later, it’s clear the water they bet on is not there.
More than two decades of drought, lake evaporation and overuse of
water have nearly drained the river’s two anchor reservoirs, Lake
Powell on the Arizona-Utah border and Lake Mead near Las Vegas.
Climate change is rendering the basin drier, shrinking spring
runoff that’s vital for river flows, farms, tribes and cities
across the basin – and essential for refilling reservoirs.
The states that endorsed the Colorado River Compact in 1922 – and
the tribes and nation of Mexico that were excluded from the table
– are now straining to find, and perhaps more importantly accept,
solutions on a river that may offer just half of the water that
the Compact assumed would be available. And not only are
solutions not coming easily, the relationships essential for
compromise are getting more frayed.
With 25 years of experience working
on the Colorado River, Chuck Cullom is used to responding to
myriad challenges that arise on the vital lifeline that seven
states, more than two dozen tribes and the country of Mexico
depend on for water. But this summer problems on the
drought-stressed river are piling up at a dizzying pace:
Reservoirs plummeting to record low levels, whether Hoover Dam
and Glen Canyon Dam can continue to release water and produce
hydropower, unprecedented water cuts and predatory smallmouth
bass threatening native fish species in the Grand Canyon.
“Holy buckets, Batman!,” said Cullom, executive director of the
Upper Colorado River Commission. “I mean, it’s just on and on and
Momentum is building for a unique
interstate deal that aims to transform wastewater from Southern
California homes and business into relief for the stressed
Colorado River. The collaborative effort to add resiliency to a
river suffering from overuse, drought and climate change is being
shaped across state lines by some of the West’s largest water
Climate scientist Brad Udall calls
himself the skunk in the room when it comes to the Colorado
River. Armed with a deck of PowerPoint slides and charts that
highlight the Colorado River’s worsening math, the Colorado State
University scientist offers a grim assessment of the river’s
future: Runoff from the river’s headwaters is declining, less
water is flowing into Lake Powell – the key reservoir near the
Arizona-Utah border – and at the same time, more water is being
released from the reservoir than it can sustainably provide.
Twenty years ago, the Colorado River
Basin’s hydrology began tumbling into a historically bad stretch.
The weather turned persistently dry. Water levels in the system’s
anchor reservoirs of Lake Powell and Lake Mead plummeted. A river
system relied upon by nearly 40 million people, farms and
ecosystems across the West was in trouble. And there was no guide
on how to respond.
Managing water resources in the Colorado River Basin is not for the timid or those unaccustomed to big challenges. Careers are devoted to responding to all the demands put upon the river: water supply, hydropower, recreation and environmental protection.
All of this while the Basin endures a seemingly endless drought and forecasts of increasing dryness in the future.
Sprawled across a desert expanse
along the Utah-Arizona border, Lake Powell’s nearly 100-foot high
bathtub ring etched on its sandstone walls belie the challenges
of a major Colorado River reservoir at less than half-full. How
those challenges play out as demand grows for the river’s water
amid a changing climate is fueling simmering questions about
Innovative efforts to accelerate
restoration of headwater forests and to improve a river for the
benefit of both farmers and fish. Hard-earned lessons for water
agencies from a string of devastating California wildfires.
Efforts to drought-proof a chronically water-short region of
California. And a broad debate surrounding how best to address
persistent challenges facing the Colorado River.
These were among the issues Western Water explored in
2019, and are still worth taking a look at in case you missed
The Colorado River is arguably one
of the hardest working rivers on the planet, supplying water to
40 million people and a large agricultural economy in the West.
But it’s under duress from two decades of drought and decisions
made about its management will have exceptional ramifications for
the future, especially as impacts from climate change are felt.
The Colorado River Basin’s 20 years
of drought and the dramatic decline in water levels at the
river’s key reservoirs have pressed water managers to adapt to
challenging conditions. But even more extreme — albeit rare —
droughts or floods that could overwhelm water managers may lie
ahead in the Basin as the effects of climate change take hold,
say a group of scientists. They argue that stakeholders who are
preparing to rewrite the operating rules of the river should plan
now for how to handle these so-called “black swan” events so
they’re not blindsided.
Summer is a good time to take a
break, relax and enjoy some of the great beaches, waterways and
watersheds around California and the West. We hope you’re getting
a chance to do plenty of that this July.
But in the weekly sprint through work, it’s easy to miss
some interesting nuggets you might want to read. So while we’re
taking a publishing break to work on other water articles planned
for later this year, we want to help you catch up on
Western Water stories from the first half of this year
that you might have missed.
Even as stakeholders in the Colorado River Basin celebrate the recent completion of an unprecedented drought plan intended to stave off a crashing Lake Mead, there is little time to rest. An even larger hurdle lies ahead as they prepare to hammer out the next set of rules that could vastly reshape the river’s future.
Set to expire in 2026, the current guidelines for water deliveries and shortage sharing, launched in 2007 amid a multiyear drought, were designed to prevent disputes that could provoke conflict.
As stakeholders labor to nail down
effective and durable drought contingency plans for the Colorado
River Basin, they face a stark reality: Scientific research is
increasingly pointing to even drier, more challenging times
The latest sobering assessment landed the day after Thanksgiving,
when U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Fourth National Climate
Assessment concluded that Earth’s climate is changing rapidly
compared to the pace of natural variations that have occurred
throughout its history, with greenhouse gas emissions largely the
As the Colorado River Basin becomes
drier and shortage conditions loom, one great variable remains:
How much of the river’s water belongs to Native American tribes?
Native Americans already use water from the Colorado River and
its tributaries for a variety of purposes, including leasing it
to non-Indian users. But some tribes aren’t using their full
federal Indian reserved water right and others have water rights
claims that have yet to be resolved. Combined, tribes have rights
to more water than some states in the Colorado River Basin.
The Colorado River Basin is more
than likely headed to unprecedented shortage in 2020 that could
force supply cuts to some states, but work is “furiously”
underway to reduce the risk and avert a crisis, Bureau of
Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman told an audience of
California water industry people.
During a keynote address at the Water Education Foundation’s
Sept. 20 Water Summit in Sacramento, Burman said there is
opportunity for Colorado River Basin states to control their
destiny, but acknowledged that in water, there are no guarantees
that agreement can be reached.
Water means life for all the Grand Canyon’s inhabitants, including the many varieties of insects that are a foundation of the ecosystem’s food web. But hydropower operations upstream on the Colorado River at Glen Canyon Dam, in Northern Arizona near the Utah border, disrupt the natural pace of insect reproduction as the river rises and falls, sometimes dramatically. Eggs deposited at the river’s edge are often left high and dry and their loss directly affects available food for endangered fish such as the humpback chub.
Amy Haas recently became the first non-engineer and the first woman to serve as executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission in its 70-year history, putting her smack in the center of a host of daunting challenges facing the Upper Colorado River Basin.
Yet those challenges will be quite familiar to Haas, an attorney who for the past year has served as deputy director and general counsel of the commission. (She replaced longtime Executive Director Don Ostler). She has a long history of working within interstate Colorado River governance, including representing New Mexico as its Upper Colorado River commissioner and playing a central role in the negotiation of the recently signed U.S.-Mexico agreement known as Minute 323.
Nowhere is the domino effect in
Western water policy played out more than on the Colorado River,
and specifically when it involves the Lower Basin states of
California, Nevada and Arizona. We are seeing that play out now
as the three states strive to forge a Drought Contingency Plan.
Yet that plan can’t be finalized until Arizona finds a unifying
voice between its major water players, an effort you can read
more about in the latest in-depth article of Western Water.
Even then, there are some issues to resolve just within
It’s high-stakes time in Arizona. The state that depends on the
Colorado River to help supply its cities and farms — and is
first in line to absorb a shortage — is seeking a unified plan
for water supply management to join its Lower Basin neighbors,
California and Nevada, in a coordinated plan to preserve water
levels in Lake Mead before
they run too low.
If the lake’s elevation falls below 1,075 feet above sea level,
the secretary of the Interior would declare a shortage and
Arizona’s deliveries of Colorado River water would be reduced by
320,000 acre-feet. Arizona says that’s enough to serve about 1
million households in one year.
Tickets are now on sale for the Water Education Foundation’s April 11-13 tour of the Lower Colorado River.
Don’t miss this opportunity to visit key sites along one of the nation’s most famous rivers, including a private tour of Hoover Dam, Central Arizona Project’s Mark Wilmer pumping plant and the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. The tour also visits the Salton Sea, Slab City, the All-American Canal and farming regions in the Imperial and Coachella valleys.
Rising temperatures from climate change are having a noticeable
effect on how much water is flowing down the Colorado River. Read
the latest River Report to learn more about what’s
happening, and how water managers are responding.
This issue of Western Water discusses the challenges
facing the Colorado River Basin resulting from persistent
drought, climate change and an overallocated river, and how water
managers and others are trying to face the future.
A troublesome invasive species is
the quagga mussel, a tiny freshwater mollusk that attaches itself
to water utility infrastructure and reproduces at a rapid rate,
causing damage to pipes and pumps.
First found in the Great Lakes in 1988 (dumped with ballast water
from overseas ships), the quagga mussel along with the zebra
mussel are native to the rivers and lakes of eastern Europe and
western Asia, including the Black, Caspian and Azov Seas and the
Dneiper River drainage of Ukraine and Ponto-Caspian
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.
Water as a renewable resource is depicted in this 18×24 inch
poster. Water is renewed again and again by the natural
hydrologic cycle where water evaporates, transpires from plants,
rises to form clouds, and returns to the earth as precipitation.
Excellent for elementary school classroom use.
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 Colorado River provides water to 40 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.
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
The construction of Glen Canyon Dam in 1964 created Lake Powell.
Both are located in north-central Arizona near the Utah border.
Lake Powell acts as a holding tank for outflow from the Colorado
River Upper Basin States: Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
The water stored in Lake Powell is used for recreation, power
generation and delivering water to the Lower Basin states of
California, Arizona, and Nevada.
In 2005, after six years of severe
drought in the Colorado River Basin, federal officials and
representatives of the seven basin states — California, Arizona,
Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming — began building a
framework to better respond to drought conditions and coordinate
the operations of the basin’s two key reservoirs, Lake Powell and
The resulting Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and
the Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead (Interim
Guidelines) identified the conditions for shortage determinations
and details of coordinated reservoir operations. The 2007 Interim
Guidelines remain in effect through Dec. 31, 2025.
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.
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.
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.