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
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