The Colorado River Basin lies in the southwestern United States. By geography and by the law of the river, the Colorado River Compact of 1922, the basin is divided into the mountainous upper basin, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, where most of the runoff in the basin originates and the dry lower basin, Arizona, California, and Nevada, where there is great demand for the water in the river. A United States Supreme Court decision, usually termed the "Consolidated Decree", the Consolidated Decree entered by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Arizona v. California, 547 U.S. 150 (2006), also applies. The United States has a delivery obligation to the United Mexican States (Mexico) for certain waters of the Colorado River pursuant to the February 3, 1944 Treaty between the United States and Mexico [Relating to the Utilization of the Waters of the Colorado and Tijuana Rivers and of the Rio Grande]. In November, 2012 by the terms of Minute 319 an agreement was made to establish a small base flow and to annually release a pulse flow which mimics in a small way the historic annual floods of the Colorado which ended with completion of the Glen Canyon Dam in 1963. This release will maintain the connection of the river with the delta and the Gulf of California and benefit the ecosystem. Mexico will be allowed to store excess water in Hoover Dam for this and other purposes.
It was reported on December 10, 2007 that the Federal Government and the 7 affected states had agreed to a supplement to the Colorado River Compact which provides for procedures for the Interior Department to declare a shortage on the river should the river be unable to produce the 7.5 million acre-feet of water water alloted to the lower basin states., the Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and Coordinated Operations for Lakes Powell and Mead. The guidelines are termed "interim" as they will be used through 2026 while experience is gained. The pact was signed by the seven states and the Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne in a ceremony at the Colorado River Water Users Association in Las Vegas. The proposed federal action will be implemented through the adoption of interim guidelines that would be used each year by the Department in implementing the Criteria for Coordinated Long-Range Operation of Colorado River Reservoirs Pursuant to the Colorado River Basin Project Act of September 30, 1968 (Long-Range Operating Criteria or LROC) through issuance of the Annual Operating Plan for Colorado River Reservoirs (AOP).
Quotations[edit | edit source]
- "The original sin was putting more water on paper than existed in the real world." 
Notes[edit | edit source]
- The treaties, compacts, decrees, statutes, regulations, contracts and other legal documents and agreements applicable to the allocation, appropriation, development, exportation and management of the waters of the Colorado River Basin are often referred to as the Law of the River. There is no single, universally agreed upon definition of the Law of the River, but it is useful as a shorthand reference to describe this longstanding and complex body of legal agreements governing the Colorado River. Final Evironmental Impact Statement November 2007
- Final Evironmental Impact Statement November 2007
- PDF image of Minute 319
- "Relief for a Parched Delta" article by Henry Fountain in The New York Times April 15, 2013
- "Western States Agree to Water-Sharing Pact" article by Randal C. Archibold in The New York Times December 10, 2007
- "Nevada: Western States Sign Water Pact" AP December 14, 2007
- "As Southwest Water Managers Grapple With Climate Change, Can A 'Grand Bargain' Work?" article by Luke Runyon and Bret Jasper, Aspen Public Radio July 22, 2019
External sites and further reading[edit | edit source]
- "Amid Dry Times in the West, a Lake Raises Spirits" article by Randal C. Archibold in The New York Times August 23, 2008
- "In Colorado River Delta, waters -- and prospects -- are drying up" article by Frank Clifford in the The Los Angeles Times May 25, 2008
- "Torrent in Colorado River Is Unleashed to Aid Fish" article by Felicity Barringer in The New York Times March 6, 2008
- Colorado River Basin Water Management: Evaluating and Adjusting to Hydroclimatic Variability (Book may be purchased or read on-line).
- "Colorado River Streamflow: A Paleo Perspective" Report by Western Water Assessment
- Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shortages and Coordinated Operations for Lakes Powell and Mead:
- Science Be Damned: How Ignoring Inconvenient Science Drained the Colorado River Eric Kuhn and John Fleck, University of Arizona Press, November 26, 2019 ISBN-10: 0816540055 ISBN-13: 978-0816540051