The lower Colorado River has virtually every drop allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and climate change.
The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in the Southwest across seven states, 30 tribal nations and Mexico. How the Lower Basin states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial needs was the focus of this tour.
This year’s tour took place while the river was experiencing extraordinary and historic turmoil, and during the centennial of the 1922 Colorado River Compact. The compact divided the river’s watershed into two basins, established the water allotment for each basin and provided a framework for management of the river.
Already plagued by more than 20 years of drought, officials and water users face unprecedented conditions fueled by climate change. A poor snowpack and extreme dryness sent Lake Powell and Lake Mead plunging to record low elevations, prompting the first-ever shortage to occur in 2022. Despite Drought Contingency Plans enacted just a few years prior, experts agreed urgent actions are required before the set of operating guidelines expire in 2026.
This 3-day, 2-night tour journeyed along the Lower Colorado River from Hoover Dam and Lake Mead to the Salton Sea and the Coachella Valley, and included a boat trip through scenic Topock Gorge. Along the way, experts discussed challenges related to what has been the most contested, beloved for recreation and meticulously managed river in the United States. Click here for details on our COVID-19 tour precautions.
Contact Programs Director Nick Gray via email with any tour questions.
“This tour was so well put together. You guys did a spectacular job. The topics were relevant, the speakers good, the other participants fun and knowledgeable. You could offer consulting services on how to do tours!”
“I highly recommend this tour to others. I feel this coming-together is very important to the future of water cooperation in California and the West. The tour helped me meet water users that I knew vaguely, and turned them into real people with real issues and real lives.”
“Great range of speakers. Great to meet fellow tour participants. Interesting locations to visit. Intensive (in a good way).”
The tour started at 7:30 a.m. on March 16 in Las Vegas and ended at the Ontario International Airport in California at 6:30 p.m. on March 18.
There was a ticket called the “California Option,” which was an inclusive ticket that started and ended the tour in California. It was designed for state agency employees, but was open to any participant who wanted transportation aboard the tour bus the day before the tour, March 15, from Ontario Airport in Southern California to Las Vegas and a hotel room that night in Las Vegas. Meals on March 15 were not included.
General – $925 (one person, single-occupancy room)
Early Bird – $875 if you registered by Feb. 18
California Option – $999 (included transportation & lodging on Mar. 15)
Fee included all tour meals, transportation, materials, snacks and hotel accommodations once the tour began. Participants were responsible for their own transportation to and from the tour’s beginning and end points.
A limited amount of scholarship funding was available to pay for a portion of the tour.
The Foundation continued to monitor developments with COVID-19 and anticipated a return to low levels of infection rates by the tour start date based on the projections.
Proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result (PCR or antigen) within 72 hours of the tour start date was required from all participants.
Precautions were implemented during the tour including enhanced sanitation protocols, a mask requirement aboard the motorcoach and within indoor spaces, and a modified itinerary to maximize the use of outdoor/open-air venues when possible.
Despite these mitigating circumstances, an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 existed in any place where people gather. All participants should have considered their personal choices around harm reduction and risk tolerance in the face of current variants and the likelihood of additional variants emerging in the future.
Acceptance of an assumption of risk waiver was required during registration for the tour.
We asked participants not to attend if, within 72 hours of the tour start date, they experienced symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., a fever of 100.4F or higher, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, repeated shaking muscle pain/achiness, headache, sore throat, loss of taste or smell, nasal congestion, runny nose, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue or any other symptoms associated with COVID-19 identified by the CDC).
Regardless of vaccination status, participants were required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of the tour start date IF they tested positive or were exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 within 5 days of the tour start date.
Deadline to cancel and receive a refund was three weeks prior to the first day of the tour due to hotel, meal and transportation commitments. Substitutions were allowed up to five business days before the tour. Eventbrite fees were nonrefundable and the remaining amount was subject to an additional 10% processing fee.
We recognize that unexpected conflicts with our tours can occur from time to time. The Water Education Foundation recommended considering arranging travel insurance from a provider of your choice soon after tour registration to protect against such unfortunate events.
Continuing education credits were available for California attorneys for an additional fee, and were potentially available for water plant/wastewater plant operators and other vocations/professions.