Center for Colorado River Studies
at Utah State University
On-going and accelerating climate change will inevitably decrease the flow of the Colorado River, stressing human society and river ecosystems that are dependent on the River’s flow. Research conducted by the Center for Colorado River Studies focuses on identifying ways to efficiently manage availability of the River for human uses while also identifying linkages between the River’s flow and quality and native aquatic and riparian ecosystems.
We train future managers, scientists, and advocates of the Colorado River. Tomorrow's decisions will be made by people trained in state-of-the-science engineering, natural science, and social science with a broad perspective in history, politics, and protection. Our goal is to help students address modern problems with a broad suite of technical tools and the courage to ask innovative and provocative questions.
The Center’s outreach program seeks to empower all citizens of the Colorado River to understand the implications of new and emerging science and engineering, to form policy-relevant opinions about the River’s management, to appreciate the River’s history, and to appreciate the River’s unique native ecosystems. The Center organizes workshops and other activities to accomplish these outcomes.
The Rio Grande (called the Rıo Bravo in Mexico) is more than 3,000 km long, making it the fifth longest river in North America. Since the mid–20th century, heavy water consumption of farms and cities along with many large diversion dams on the river have left only 20% of its natural discharge to flow to the Gulf. Using innovative research, we explore possible solutions to some of the many issues this river faces.
The Fill Mead First (FMF) plan would establish Lake Mead reservoir as the primary water storage facility of the main-stem Colorado River and would relegate Lake Powell reservoir to a secondary water storage facility to be used only when Lake Mead is full.
WaterMAPS™ is a custom water demand management tool that has been developed by an inter-disciplinary team of Utah State University researchers for the purpose of promoting urban landscape water conservation. The tool identifies urban properties with irrigated landscapes that have the greatest “capacity to conserve” water so that conservation information and interventions can be initiated. It also helps water suppliers assess the effectiveness of conservation program delivery by monitoring site-specific and service-area changes in landscape water use efficiency over time.
Decades of restoration efforts in the Colorado River basin have had varying success. With conservation dollars stretched thin, increasing regional temperature and variability in rainfall, and increasing demands on surface water, it is important to prioritize where to pursue restoration and what to do. We will introduce decision-support tools useful to implement analytical prioritization strategies in order to refine prioritization tools that help workshop participants increase their effectiveness.More information