Doug Kenney

Senior Fellow, Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment

University of Colorado

Doug Kenney

Contact Information

Phone: (303) 641-4238

Research Interests & Background

Dr. Kenney researches and writes extensively on several water-related issues, including law and policy reform, river basin and watershed-level planning, climate change adaptation, and water resource economics, and is the founder of the Colorado River Governance Initiative.  He has served as a consultant to a variety of local, state, multi-state, and federal agencies, including several Interior Department agencies, EPA, the US Forest Service, and special commissions (e.g., the Western Water Policy Review Advisory Commission); and national governments and NGOs in Asia and Africa.  Additionally, he has made presentations in 20 states (and the District of Columbia), 8 nations, and 4 continents.  He has a B.A. in biology from the University of Colorado, a M.S. in Natural Resources Policy and Administration from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. in Renewable Natural Resource Studies from the University of Arizona.

Selected Colorado River Publications & Presentations


Kenney, Douglas S., Michael Cohen, John Berggren and Regina M. Buono. 2021. The Colorado River Basin. IN: Sustainability of Engineered Rivers in Arid Lands, (edited by Jurgen Schmandt and Aysegul Kibaroglu). ISBN9781108417037.  Cambridge University Press.

Kenney, Douglas S.  2020. The Changing Fate of Western Rivers: The Case of the Colorado.  IN:  The Environmental Politics and Policy of Western Public Lands (edited by Erika Allen Wolters and Brent S. Steel).  Corvallis: Oregon State University Press.

Dilling, L., M. Daly, D. Kenney, R. Klein, K. Miller, A. Ray, W. Travis, and O. Wilhelmi.  2019.  "Drought in urban water systems: Learning lessons for climate adaptive capacity."  Climate Risk Management 23 (2019) 32-42.

Dilling L., J. Berggren, J. Henderson, and D. Kenney. 2019. “Savior of rural landscapes or Solomon’s choice? Colorado’s experiment with alternative transfer methods for water (ATMs).” Water Security.

Hanak, Ellen, Brian Gray, Jeffrey Mount, Kurt Schwabe, Timothy Bradley, Bonnie Colby, Douglas Kenney, Josué Medellín-Azuara, and Jean-Daniel Saphores.  2016.  "California's Water: The Colorado River."  Public Policy Institute of California Policy Briefing Paper.  October.

Miller, Kathleen A., Alan F. Hamlet, Douglas S. Kenney, and Kelly T. Redmond (editors).  2016.  Water Policy and Planning in a Variable and Changing Climate.  CRC Press.

Robison, Jason, and Douglas S. Kenney.  2013.  Equity and the Colorado River.  Environmental Law, 42(4):1157-1209.

Kenney, Douglas S., Sarah Bates, Anne Bensard, and John Berggren.  2011.  The Colorado River and the Inevitability of Institutional Change.  Public Land & Resources Law Review, 32:103-152.

Kenney, Doug, Andrea Ray, Ben Harding, Roger Pulwarty, and Brad Udall.  2010.  Rethinking Vulnerability on the Colorado River.  Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education, 144:5-10, March.

Kenney, Douglas S.  2010.  Rethinking the Future of the Colorado River.  Interim Report of the Colorado River Governance Initiative.  Boulder: Natural Resources Law Center, Western Water Policy Program.


Time to Get Real.” Equity in the Colorado River Basin: How to Sustainability Manage a Shrinking Resource, at the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment, University of Colorado.  Boulder, CO; October 1, 2021. 

“The Grand Transect: From the High Plains to the Height of Rocky Mountain National Park” at the 29th Annual Conference of the Society of Environmental Journalists.  Estes Park, CO; October 10, 2019.

“Is the Colorado River Compact Still Relevant: Why or Why Not?” at the Water Property Investor Annual Meeting.  San Francisco, CA; October 3, 2019.

“The Case for a Grand Bargain” at the Annual Seminar of the Colorado River District.  Grand Junction, CO; September 18, 2019.

“The Colorado River Water Scarcity Crisis Explained” at the 14th Annual Hydrologic Sciences Symposium.  Boulder, CO; April 12, 2019.

“Drought, Aridification, and the New Normal” at the annual conference of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. Cheyenne, WY; November 17, 2018.

“What Lies Beneath?: Reasons to Care (and be Excited About) Groundwater Use and Management in the Southwest” (as host) at the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment, University of Colorado.  Boulder, CO; June 7-8, 2018.

"How are other states dealing with changes in water use and growth" at the Idaho's Water: Supply and Quality in a Time of Growth conference.  Boise, ID; April 17, 2018.

“The Colorado River: Searching for Sustainability” at the SERIDAS workshop.  Bellagio, Italy; November 15, 2017.

“Climate Change, Water, and Our Future” at the Colorado Foundation for Water Education’s water fluency program.  Parachute, CO; July 25, 2017

"Fighting Back on the Colorado River: Carving Out Progress on Multiple Fronts” (event host).  University of Colorado, Boulder; June 8-9, 2017.

“Water Rights & Responsibilities: Expanding the Use of Market Forces” at the Sustainability Summit, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Cambridge, MA; April 28, 2017.

“Colorado State of Mind” TV (PBS) show, reporting on the functioning of the Interim Guidelines and the Lower Basin structural deficit.  (With Reagan Waskom.)  January 21, 2016.

"Extremes, Averages or Both:  Where Do the Risks Lie?"  Upper Colorado River Basin Forum.  Grand Junction, CO; October 29, 2015.

"Water Scarcity in the Colorado River:  Who Gets the Water?"  Presentation to the Ridgway-Ouray Community Council.  Ridgway, CO; October 15, 2015.

“Challenges for the Colorado River Basin” (webinar).  Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado.  Boulder, Colorado; October 16, 2013.

“Policy and Legal Implications of Reduced Colorado River Flows.”  Presentation at the Annual Conference of the Universities Council on Water Resources and the National Institutes of Water Resources (UCOWR/NIWR), Boulder, CO; July 12, 2011.

“Rethinking the Future of the Colorado River.”  Presentation to the Colorado River Water Users Association, Las Vegas, NV; December 16, 2010.