Larry MacDonnell

Adjunct Professor of Law; Senior Fellow, Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment

University of Colorado

Larry MacDonnell

Contact Information

Phone: (303) 449-1708

Research Interests & Background

Professor MacDonnell's research and writing focus on water, natural resources and the environment, with a particularly focus on strategies for making development and use of natural resources more environmentally sustainable. He was the first director of the Natural Resources Law Center at the University of Colorado School of Law (now known as the Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment), a position he held between 1983 and 1994. Between 1995 and 2009 he worked as an attorney and consultant in Boulder, Colorado. Most recently he was a professor at the University of Wyoming College of Law where he taught water law, public land law, and natural resources law.  He has also been instrumental in the organization and establishment of community-based watershed protection and restoration groups including the Colorado Watershed Assembly and the Colorado Water Trust.  His publications include numerous books, law review articles, other journal articles, and research reports. He has given over 250 invited presentations.

Selected Colorado River Publications & Presentations


Robison, J., and L. MacDonnell.  2014.  Arizona v. California and the Colorado River Compact: Fifty Years Ago and Fifty Years Ahead.   Arizona Journal of Environmental Law and Policy 4:130.

MacDonnell, Lawrence J.  2013. Arizona v. California: Its Meaning and Significance for the Colorado River and Beyond After Fifty Years.  Arizona Journal of Environmental Law and Policy 4:88.

MacDonnell, Lawrence J.  2012. Arizona v. California Revisited. Natural Resources Journal 52:363.

MacDonnell, Lawrence J.  2010. The Disappearing Colorado River. Western Economics Forum , 9(2) (Fall).

MacDonnell, L.J., D. Getches, and W. Hugenberg Jr.  1995.  The Law of the Colorado River: Coping with Severe Sustained Drought.  Water Resources Bulletin 31(5): 825-836.


 “The Role of Tribal Water Sharing in the Drought Contingency Plan” (moderator) at the Tribal Basin-Wide Gathering/Workshop. Fort McDowell, AZ; February 13, 2019.

“The Sum of the Parts: A Blueprint for Lower Basin Sustainability?” at the conference “Fighting Back on the Colorado River: Carving Out Progress on Multiple Fronts.”  Getches-Wilkinson Center for Natural Resources, Energy and the Environment, University of Colorado; Boulder, CO; June 8, 2017.

“Drought Management, Climate Change, and the Colorado River Compact.”  Water Management Strategies for Addressing Long-Term Drought and Climate Uncertainty. Salt Lake City, UT; October 28, 2015.

Presenter at the Colorado River Symposium of the Water Education Foundation, September 17-18, 2015.