This tour explored the lower Colorado River firsthand where virtually every drop of the river is 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 some 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 came while the river is undergoing extraordinary and historic turmoil, just over a century after signing of the 1922 Colorado River Compact that anchors a collection of legal documents collectively known as the “Law of the River.” 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’s water resources.
Already plagued by more than 20 years of drought, officials and water users are experiencing unprecedented conditions fueled by climate change. Even with recent improvements to snowpack, the long period of extreme dryness had sent Lake Powell and Lake Mead plunging to record low elevations below 30% of capacity, prompting the first-ever shortage declaration to occur in 2022. Despite Drought Contingency Plans enacted just a few years ago, experts agree even more urgent actions will be required before the current set of operating guidelines expires in 2025.
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, including a boat trip through scenic Topock Gorge. Along the way, experts discussrf challenges related to what is the most contested, beloved for recreation and meticulously managed river in the United States.
“The program for the tour was put together extremely well to create a cohesive learning experience. The tour enhanced my understanding of demands on the river and how managers are working to address water availability.”
“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.”
“The quality of the speakers was amazing – truly great to hear from so many experts to understand different perspectives.”
The tour started at 7:30 a.m. on March 8 in Las Vegas and ended at Ontario International Airport in California at 6:30 p.m. on March 10.
A limited number of ”California Option” tickets were available which started and ended the tour for participants in California.
General – $949 (one person, single-occupancy room)
Fee included all tour meals, transportation, materials, snacks and hotel accommodations once the tour began Wednesday morning. Participants were responsible for their own transportation to and from the tour’s beginning and end point.
California Option – $1095 (Feb.17 registration deadline)
This ticket was designed for state agency employees with travel expense restrictions, but was available to any participant who wanted transportation aboard the tour bus on the afternoon of March 7, from Ontario Airport in Southern California to Las Vegas and a hotel room that night.
A limited amount of scholarship funding was available to pay for a portion of the tour. Scholarships were awarded based on a few factors, including:
The Foundation continues to monitor developments with COVID-19. Precautions will be implemented during the tour including enhanced sanitation protocols and an itinerary that maximizes use of outdoor/open-air spaces when feasible.
Despite these mitigating circumstances, an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any place where people gather. All participants should consider 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 is required during registration for the tour.
We ask participants not to attend if, within 72 hours of the tour start date, they have 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).
If a participant tests positive or is exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 within 5 days of the tour start date, they must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of the tour start date regardless of their vaccination status.
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 are nonrefundable and the remaining amount may be 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 recommends you consider arranging travel insurance from a provider of your choice soon after tour registration to protect against such unfortunate events.
MCLE credits were available only for California attorneys for an additional fee, and possibly available for water plant/wastewater plant operators and other vocations/professions.