The waters of the mighty Colorado River, which flows out of the Rockies down through the Grand Canyon and into Mexico, were divvied up among seven Southwestern states in 1922.

That agreement, the Colorado River Compact, remains in place nearly a century later, and has a provision that is of great concern to water managers in the Rocky Mountains: California and the other so-called lower-basin states can, in exceedingly dry years, make a “call” under the compact that would require the upper-basin states to leave more water in the river. And that, officials say, could imperil half of Denver’s water supply.

With that in mind, officials in Colorado, Utah, Nevada and Wyoming are mulling the idea of a “grand bargain” that would reduce the risk to those upper-basin states and take into account the ongoing depletion of the river’s flow by the increasing aridity wrought by climate change.

In today’s Denver Post, environmental reporter Bruce Finley examines this idea of bringing the 1922 compact into the 21st century and what it could mean for Colorado and its neighboring states.

Water, and how it’s managed, is an increasingly crucial topic in this state and the West. Thanks for reading.

— Matt Sebastian, Denver Post enterprise editor

West wrestles with Colorado River “grand bargain” as changing climate depletes water governed by 1922 compact

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, CO - Aug. 22: ...
Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post
The Colorado River flows near the Bair Ranch rest area in Glenwood Canyon on Thursday, August 22, 2019.

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Five of The Denver Post’s best stories this week

Advice for first-generation Colorado college students

Sharai Conde (right) hugs her cousin ...
AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post
Sharai Conde, right, hugs her cousin Stephanie Cruz, who is also a student at the Auraria campus, during their first day of class on Tuesday. Conde is an 18-year-old first-generation student at Metropolitan State University of Denver.

For those who had parents with no postsecondary education, only 17% of students in a study went on to earn a bachelor’s degree, according to a 2017 report from the National Center for Education Statistics. Compare that to 46% of students who had a parent with a bachelor’s degree.

As the first person in her family to attend college, 18-year-old Sharai Conde had to work that much harder to figure out how to get a postsecondary degree. Read more from Elizabeth Hernandez.


Bills and a baby: Colorado Sen. Brittany Pettersen is breaking new ground

Senator Brittany Pettersen, her husband Ian ...
Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post
Colorado state Sen. Brittany Pettersen, representing District 22 in Jefferson County, her husband, Ian Silverii, and their dog, Ollie, at their home in Lakewood on Aug. 12.

State Sen. Brittany Pettersen is due at the end of January with her first child, a baby boy who will make her the first Colorado state senator to give birth in office and the first state lawmaker to do so during a legislative session.

Her absence from the Senate chamber during the 2020 session — the inevitable result of increasing diversity at Colorado’s legislature — will have real policy implications, Anna Staver reports.


Spores of a psychedelic mushroom industry are sprouting in Denver after decriminalization

Mazatec psilocybin mushrooms ready for harvest ...
Joe Amon, The Denver Post
Mazatec psilocybin mushrooms are ready for harvest in a growing tub in Denver.

Three months ago, Denver voters decriminalized psychedelic mushroom use. Since then, change has been subtle — there will be no legal mushroom shops.

But there are therapists to deal with traumatic trips, guides to light the way through the psychic depths, lawyers, lobbyists and, of course, fungal cultivators. Amid the confusion and intrigue of a unique new law, the spores of a new micro-economy have landed. Read more from Andrew Kenney.


John Hickenlooper is running for U.S. Senate

Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper poses ...
Joe Amon, The Denver Post
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has decided to run for the U.S. Senate.

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has opened a new chapter in his political career. The previous chapter, albeit brief, landed him on the national stage, but now he’s turning his focus back to Colorado, with an eye on a Senate seat, Nic Garcia reports.

In the past, Hick’s fellow Democrats have put up a united front, unlike their Republican counterparts. But this time around there’s the potential things could get ugly. Be sure to follow The Denver Post for the latest as this chapter unfolds.

RELATED: Given the scope of the story, Garcia wanted to write more about how he got it for our political newsletter The Spot. You can read more about that here and sign up for The Spot here.


FOLLOW UP: No slumping in pumping despite strictures in Colorado’s new oil and gas law

Liberty's Luke Welty walks through a ...
Kelsey Brunner, The Denver Post
Liberty’s Luke Welty walks through a fracking site near Henderson in July.

Last week we brought you the first two stories in our in-depth severance tax package. This is the third story, published on Monday, which looks into the future of oil and gas in Colorado given recent regulatory legislation. Read more from John Aguilar.

In case you missed last week’s newsletter, the first story in the series went over Colorado’s current severance tax situation, and the second story looked at oil and gas tax revenue in other states.


More of our best stories

+ With growing opposition and slowing prison population growth, what is the future for private prison companies in Colorado?

+ Inverted yield curve not a warning flare for recession, CU Denver professor argues

+ Lone Tree charter school that allows staff members to carry concealed guns will leave Douglas County School District

+ Colorado health officials investigating two more potential cases of vaping-related illness

+ Regis University’s technology systems targeted by “malicious threat” likely from outside the country

+ Colorado youth correctional facilities’ method of restraining juveniles developed without oversight, report finds

+ 5280 Trail aims to be Denver’s answer to New York City’s High Line

+ Plutonium in soil sample near Rocky Flats five times higher than cleanup standard

+ Planned Parenthood’s departure from Title X federal family planning program won’t affect Colorado

+ Denver airport travelers will be navigating terminal mess for a while

+ Proposed federal rule would end food assistance for 33,000 in Colorado

+ Denver district attorney’s office to examine past cases for potential racial bias as McCann aligns herself with national prosecutor reform movement


Photo of the week

Children ride in the back of ...
Kelsey Brunner, The Denver Post
Children ride in the back of a pickup down U.S. 285 in Alamosa on Aug. 6.