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A collaborative resource for news, perspective and analysis for issues eddying Colorado River management.

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Colorado River
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Despite the modest runoff of 2024, water managers were able to increase reservoir storage, because they had done such a good job of limiting consumptive uses following the 2023 runoff season.
The 2024 Runoff Season Comes to an End – How Did We Do?

The 2024 Runoff Season Comes to an End – How Did We Do?

Despite the modest runoff of 2024, water managers were able to increase reservoir storage, because they had done such a good job of limiting consumptive uses following the 2023 runoff season.

Colorado River
News
Blog
Opportunities to rebuild basin-wide reservoir storage have been rare in the 21st century, and there have been many years in which there is significant risk of basin-wide reservoir storage depletion. the natural flow of the Colorado River at Lees Ferry in
End of Season Wrap-Up – Holding on to What We’ve Got

End of Season Wrap-Up – Holding on to What We’ve Got

Opportunities to rebuild basin-wide reservoir storage have been rare in the 21st century, and there have been many years in which there is significant risk of basin-wide reservoir storage depletion. the natural flow of the Colorado River at Lees Ferry in ...

News
Blog
Colorado River
In the Colorado River basin, dewatered rivers are often portrayed as an ecological problem unique to the Lower Basin. But while the dry riverbed of the mainstem Colorado in its delta in northern Mexico may be the most striking example of anthropogenic dew
Potential for Novel Cottonwood Forests in Grand Canyon

Potential for Novel Cottonwood Forests in Grand Canyon

In the Colorado River basin, dewatered rivers are often portrayed as an ecological problem unique to the Lower Basin. But while the dry riverbed of the mainstem Colorado in its delta in northern Mexico may be the most striking example of anthropogenic dew...

Colorado River
News
Blog
Storage progressively increased in February. The small value matters little; what matters is that basin storage did not decrease and hasn’t for the last 2.5 months. To date, reservoir storage is only 20% less than the peak storage at the end of the 2023 r
Holding Course: February brings more of the same for basin storage

Holding Course: February brings more of the same for basin storage

Storage progressively increased in February. The small value matters little; what matters is that basin storage did not decrease and hasn’t for the last 2.5 months. To date, reservoir storage is only 20% less than the peak storage at the end of the 2023 r...

Blog
News
Colorado River
Nothing really changed in reservoir storage during January 2024. That is really good news as the basin prepares for the upcoming irrigation season. Conditions in the basin remain comparable to conditions in spring 2021. There is no reason so stop our effo
No Change in Reservoir Storage … and That’s Good News

No Change in Reservoir Storage … and That’s Good News

Nothing really changed in reservoir storage during January 2024. That is really good news as the basin prepares for the upcoming irrigation season. Conditions in the basin remain comparable to conditions in spring 2021. There is no reason so stop our effo...

News
Blog
Colorado River
There was not much loss in reservoir storage in the Colorado River basin in December 2023. Total storage in the basin’s reservoirs only declined by 17,000 acre feet during the month, and the combined contents of Lake Mead and Lake Powell increased by 68,0
Reservoir Storage at the End of 2023 – Holding On to What We Have

Reservoir Storage at the End of 2023 – Holding On to What We Have

There was not much loss in reservoir storage in the Colorado River basin in December 2023. Total storage in the basin’s reservoirs only declined by 17,000 acre feet during the month, and the combined contents of Lake Mead and Lake Powell increased by 68,0...

Colorado River
Blog
News
We’ve used 21% of the gains from the exceptional 2023 runoff, a drawdown slower in the annual cycle than in it has been in all but one of the previous decade. New policies to reduce basin-wide consumptive use may be working.
‘So Far, So Good’ for the Colorado River Watershed in 2023

‘So Far, So Good’ for the Colorado River Watershed in 2023

We’ve used 21% of the gains from the exceptional 2023 runoff, a drawdown slower in the annual cycle than in it has been in all but one of the previous decade. New policies to reduce basin-wide consumptive use may be working.

Colorado River
Blog
News
October brings another month of reservoir storage data from the Bureau of Reclamation. How are we doing in conserving water? Decline in reservoir storage occurs when reservoir releases to meet consumptive use demands and reservoir evaporation exceed inflo
Protecting Reservoir Storage Gains from Water Year 2023: How are we doing?

Protecting Reservoir Storage Gains from Water Year 2023: How are we doing?

October brings another month of reservoir storage data from the Bureau of Reclamation. How are we doing in conserving water? Decline in reservoir storage occurs when reservoir releases to meet consumptive use demands and reservoir evaporation exceed inflo...

Colorado River
News
Blog
Summary: Water Year 2023 was exceptional for runoff and for boosting reservoir storage---but it isn't likely to repeat itself for the additional 3-6 years needed to refill the reservoirs to 1999 levels (the last time they were full). We need to work to co
Water Year 2023 in Context: A Cautionary Tale

Water Year 2023 in Context: A Cautionary Tale

Summary: Water Year 2023 was exceptional for runoff and for boosting reservoir storage---but it isn't likely to repeat itself for the additional 3-6 years needed to refill the reservoirs to 1999 levels (the last time they were full). We need to work to co...

Blog
News
Colorado River
The Colorado River has one of the largest natural sediment loads of any large river in the United States. In 1936, Hoover Dam was completed, thereby beginning the filling of Lake Mead and the trapping of the upstream sediment load. In 1963, Glen Canyon Da
Sediment Delivery to Lake Powell and Lake Mead

Sediment Delivery to Lake Powell and Lake Mead

The Colorado River has one of the largest natural sediment loads of any large river in the United States. In 1936, Hoover Dam was completed, thereby beginning the filling of Lake Mead and the trapping of the upstream sediment load. In 1963, Glen Canyon Da...

Colorado River
Blog
News
In the Colorado River basin, dewatered rivers are often portrayed as an ecological problem unique to the Lower Basin. But while the dry riverbed of the mainstem Colorado in its delta in northern Mexico may be the most striking example of anthropogenic dew
Dewatered Rivers of the Upper Colorado River Basin

Dewatered Rivers of the Upper Colorado River Basin

In the Colorado River basin, dewatered rivers are often portrayed as an ecological problem unique to the Lower Basin. But while the dry riverbed of the mainstem Colorado in its delta in northern Mexico may be the most striking example of anthropogenic dew...

Blog
Colorado River
Numerous dams and diversion structures have been built along the Colorado River and its tributaries to support this demand for water. These dams create reservoirs for water storage and generate hydroelectricity. Despite their utility to humans, dams have
Impacts of reservoir management strategies on aquatic invertebrates in the Colorado River Basin

Impacts of reservoir management strategies on aquatic invertebrates in the Colorado River Basin

Numerous dams and diversion structures have been built along the Colorado River and its tributaries to support this demand for water. These dams create reservoirs for water storage and generate hydroelectricity. Despite their utility to humans, dams have ...

Colorado River
Blog
When the compact was signed, negotiators believed that the river would yield more than 15 million acre-feet each year. Right now, the river yields about 12 million acre-feet per year. This is the major pitfall in how we manage the Colorado River.
Why Fixed Allotments from the 1920s Need to be Removed from the Colorado River Compact

Why Fixed Allotments from the 1920s Need to be Removed from the Colorado River Compact

When the compact was signed, negotiators believed that the river would yield more than 15 million acre-feet each year. Right now, the river yields about 12 million acre-feet per year. This is the major pitfall in how we manage the Colorado River.

Colorado River
Blog
The St. George, Utah metropolitan area frequently makes appearances at the tops of lists of the fastest growing places in the United States. According to the United States Census Bureau, Washington County, Utah, saw an increase in population between 2010
Impacts of Water Conservation in Washington County, Utah

Impacts of Water Conservation in Washington County, Utah

The St. George, Utah metropolitan area frequently makes appearances at the tops of lists of the fastest growing places in the United States. According to the United States Census Bureau, Washington County, Utah, saw an increase in population between 2010 ...

Colorado River
News
Blog
Working for the first time for a major water resource agency in the arid west exposed Leonard to the challenges and complexities of western water resource development. Growing up in a rural community in the Midwest, she was acutely aware of agricultural p
The Muddy Side of Science: Meet Christy Leonard

The Muddy Side of Science: Meet Christy Leonard

Working for the first time for a major water resource agency in the arid west exposed Leonard to the challenges and complexities of western water resource development. Growing up in a rural community in the Midwest, she was acutely aware of agricultural p...

Blog
News
Colorado River
With most forecasts pointing toward another below-average winter of precipitation in the Rocky Mountains in 2022/2023 and with total basin-wide reservoir storage now less than 20 maf (less than 17 months of supply at the rate water has been consumed in th
It's Time to Further Reduce Glen Canyon Dam Releases

It's Time to Further Reduce Glen Canyon Dam Releases

With most forecasts pointing toward another below-average winter of precipitation in the Rocky Mountains in 2022/2023 and with total basin-wide reservoir storage now less than 20 maf (less than 17 months of supply at the rate water has been consumed in th...

Colorado River
Blog
News
From the Fleck Blog: As we begin discussing what replaces the soon-to-expire Colorado River operating guidelines, we argue that there are important lessons to be learned from a careful examination of the way the current guidelines have failed us.
Learning from Failure: Next Steps on the Colorado River

Learning from Failure: Next Steps on the Colorado River

From the Fleck Blog: As we begin discussing what replaces the soon-to-expire Colorado River operating guidelines, we argue that there are important lessons to be learned from a careful examination of the way the current guidelines have failed us.

Blog
News
Colorado River
It's no wonder that the map from Reclamation’s landmark report, Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study, is often used --- it is clear, easy to read, and depicts many of the key features of the infrastructure by which the Colorado River is mana
Maps Matter: A few suggested changes to the Colorado River basin base map

Maps Matter: A few suggested changes to the Colorado River basin base map

It's no wonder that the map from Reclamation’s landmark report, Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study, is often used --- it is clear, easy to read, and depicts many of the key features of the infrastructure by which the Colorado River is mana...

future
Blog
White Paper
News
Colorado River
This White Paper is designed to encourage wide-ranging and innovative thinking about how to sustainably manage the water supply, while simultaneously encouraging the negotiators of new agreements to consider their effects on ecosystems.
White Paper 6: Alternative Management Paradigms For The Future Of The Colorado And Green Rivers | Colorado River Studies

White Paper 6: Alternative Management Paradigms For The Future Of The Colorado And Green Rivers

This White Paper is designed to encourage wide-ranging and innovative thinking about how to sustainably manage the water supply, while simultaneously encouraging the negotiators of new agreements to consider their effects on ecosystems.

Colorado River
Blog
Water conservation trickles down on two fronts—ecological and political issues surrounding the flow in the river, and what happens when water comes out at the end of the pipelines.
Partnership For Water Conservation And Mitigation | Colorado River Studies

Partnership For Water Conservation And Mitigation

Water conservation trickles down on two fronts—ecological and political issues surrounding the flow in the river, and what happens when water comes out at the end of the pipelines.

Blog
Colorado River
Although one might assume that warming river temperatures downstream from dams might be good for native fishes, the reality is more complex.
The Complex Task Of Predicting How Temperature Changes Will Affect Native And Non-Native Fishes | Colorado River Studies

The Complex Task Of Predicting How Temperature Changes Will Affect Native And Non-Native Fishes

Although one might assume that warming river temperatures downstream from dams might be good for native fishes, the reality is more complex.

Blog
White Paper
News
Colorado River
Effective water-supply negotiation and river management are best served if Colorado River stakeholders are mindful of the precision and accuracy of the many components of the hydrologic cycle that affect the water supply.
White Paper 5: Stream Flow And Losses Of The Colorado River In The Southern Colorado Plateau | Colorado River Studies

White Paper 5: Stream Flow And Losses Of The Colorado River In The Southern Colorado Plateau

Effective water-supply negotiation and river management are best served if Colorado River stakeholders are mindful of the precision and accuracy of the many components of the hydrologic cycle that affect the water supply.

Colorado River
White Paper
News
Blog
Long-range planning of the water supply provided by the Colorado River requires realistic assessments of the impact of a continuation of the current drought that began in 2000, of extreme future droughts, and the long-term and decline in watershed runoff.
White Paper 4: The Future Hydrology Of The Colorado River Basin | Colorado River Studies

White Paper 4: The Future Hydrology Of The Colorado River Basin

Long-range planning of the water supply provided by the Colorado River requires realistic assessments of the impact of a continuation of the current drought that began in 2000, of extreme future droughts, and the long-term and decline in watershed runoff....

News
Colorado River
Blog
The Upper Colorado River Basin is now caught in a vise. We have fixed commitments under the 1922 compact and a declining supply of water above Lee Ferry. Yet many are still operating under the illusion that the Upper Basin has “unused” entitlement.
The Lake Powell Pipeline: Asking The Bigger Questions | Colorado River Studies

The Lake Powell Pipeline: Asking The Bigger Questions

The Upper Colorado River Basin is now caught in a vise. We have fixed commitments under the 1922 compact and a declining supply of water above Lee Ferry. Yet many are still operating under the illusion that the Upper Basin has “unused” entitlement.

Colorado River
Blog
News
River channels change in response to natural and human-caused fluctuations in streamflow and sediment supply. Predicting how the channel might change is an important and challenging part of managing a river system.
New Research: A Better Way To Measure Uncertainty With Aerial Photos | Colorado River Studies

New Research: A Better Way To Measure Uncertainty With Aerial Photos

River channels change in response to natural and human-caused fluctuations in streamflow and sediment supply. Predicting how the channel might change is an important and challenging part of managing a river system.

Blog
Colorado River
An essential question that drives discussion is, “How much water do we need?” The human body must have water to survive, and water is needed to grow crops, but the amount of water used by different societies varies greatly.
Effective Renegotiation Of The Guidelines For Management Of The Colorado River Water Supply Necessitates A Wide Range Of Scenarios Of Future Water Use | Colorado River Studies

Effective Renegotiation Of The Guidelines For Management Of The Colorado River Water Supply Necessitates A Wide Range Of Scenarios Of Future Water Use

An essential question that drives discussion is, “How much water do we need?” The human body must have water to survive, and water is needed to grow crops, but the amount of water used by different societies varies greatly.

Blog
Colorado River
This week’s show kicks off National Parks Traveler's coverage of the Colorado River and how its health, or lack of health, impacts Canyonlands National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Utah.
National Parks Traveler: Special Report On The Colorado River | Colorado River Studies

National Parks Traveler: Special Report On The Colorado River

This week’s show kicks off National Parks Traveler's coverage of the Colorado River and how its health, or lack of health, impacts Canyonlands National Park and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Utah.

Colorado River
Blog
The Colorado River Basin has experienced incredibly large flood events in the past. Present-day river deposits can be used to understand the size and timing of floods that have happened within the region.
Science Moab: A Look At Paleo-Flood Hydrology | Colorado River Studies

Science Moab: A Look At Paleo-Flood Hydrology

The Colorado River Basin has experienced incredibly large flood events in the past. Present-day river deposits can be used to understand the size and timing of floods that have happened within the region.

Colorado River
Blog
Future consumptive water use is difficult to predict because underlying factors that influence consumptive use—future population growth, irrigation technology and practices, climate, agricultural commodity prices and other factors.
Scenarios Consistently Overestimate Consumptive Water Use In The Upper Colorado River Basin | Colorado River Studies

Scenarios Consistently Overestimate Consumptive Water Use In The Upper Colorado River Basin

Future consumptive water use is difficult to predict because underlying factors that influence consumptive use—future population growth, irrigation technology and practices, climate, agricultural commodity prices and other factors.

White Paper
Colorado River
Blog
News
Learn
A new white paper is the first of a series of papers to be produced by the Future of the Colorado River Project that explore alternative management strategies for the Colorado River that might provide benefit to water-supply users and to river ecosystems.
White Paper 2: Water Resource Modeling Of The Colorado River: Present And Future Strategies | Colorado River Studies

White Paper 2: Water Resource Modeling Of The Colorado River: Present And Future Strategies

A new white paper is the first of a series of papers to be produced by the Future of the Colorado River Project that explore alternative management strategies for the Colorado River that might provide benefit to water-supply users and to river ecosystems....