Colorado River Information Portal

Several organizations have compiled information useful to researchers, water users, and other parties interested in the past, present and future of the Colorado River.  Rather than recompiling this wealth of assembled data, this site is intended as a portal to direct interested parties to existing compilations.  Resources are organized in three sections:

CRGI Products :: Other (Third-Party) Compilations :: Other useful links and collections

CRGI Products

The Colorado River Governance Initiative (CRGI) (an initiative of the Western Water Policy Program, based at the University of Colorado) is an ongoing project examining key legal and policy issues in the basin, and the types of processes and reforms that may be needed to reconcile the mismatch between growing water demands and declining long-term river flows. Resources (listed in reverse order of publication) include the following:

Colorado River Decision-Making Survey. Prepared by Ph.D. graduate student John Berggren, this survey of CRWUA members summarizes opinions on a broad variety of topics, from how decisions to made, to the nature of the basin’s problems and potential solutions.  Conducted in 2016, the survey repeats (and then compares) answers to a similar survey administered in 2010.  (December, 2016).

Looking Upstream: Analysis of low water levels in Lake Powell and the impacts on Water Supply, Hydropower, Recreation, and the Environment (Executive Summary). Prepared for the WWPP by Michael Johnson, Lindsey Ratcliff, Rebecca Shively, and Leanne Weiss (MS, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies) (Spring, 2016).  The full report can also be downloaded in a high-resolution or low-resolution format.  Additional information is available at  This report is the companion to the “Bathtub Ring” study of Lake Mead, listed below.

The Bathtub Ring. Shrinking Lake Mead: Impacts on Water Supply, Hydropower, Recreation and the Environment (This is the Project Brief; additional information is available at Prepared for the WWPP by Ning Jiang, Season Martin, Julia Morton, and Skyler Murphy (MS, University of California, Santa Barbara). (May 2015)

The Value of Water in the Colorado River Basin: A Snapshot of a Fluid Landscape. Prepared for the WWPP by Brian Annes(JD/MA, University of Wyoming.) (May 2015)

Restoring Sacred Waters: A Guide to Protecting Tribal Non-Consumptive Water Uses in the Colorado River Basin (June 2014)

Research Needs in the Colorado River Basin: A Summary of Policy-Related Topics to Explore Further in Support of Solution-Oriented Decision-Making (June 2014)

Cross-Boundary Water Transfers in the Colorado River Basin: A Review of Efforts and Issues Associated with Marketing Water Across State Lines or Reservation Boundaries(June 2013)

The Upper Basin Voluntary Demand Cap as a Means of Mitigating Legal Uncertainty in the Colorado River Basin: Modeling Results (April 2013)

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

Technical MemoDoes the Upper Basin have a Delivery Obligation or an Obligation Not to Deplete the Flow of the Colorado River at Lee Ferry? (April 2012)

Technical MemoRespective Obligations of the Upper and Lower Basins Regarding the Delivery of Water to Mexico: A Review of Key Legal Issues (March 2012)

Law of the River compilations (January, 2012).  The following technical memos compile, in various ways, language from 20 key elements of the Law of the River primarily pertaining to water apportionments.  As such, these memos are essentially technical appendices that inform the law and policy memos found in the CRGI library.

The Colorado River Law and Policy FAQ (version 2.0) (November, 2011) 

The Organization and Status of the Department of Interior’s Programs and Studies on Climate Change in the Colorado River Basin (June, 2011)

Rethinking the Future of the Colorado River, the Year 1 CRGI Interim Report, which features the main report (focused on the supply/demand imbalance) and three technical appendices (December, 2010)

Other (Third-Party) Compilations

For extensive and multi-faceted collections of resources, we recommend:

The Colorado River Research Group offers “an independent, scientific voice for the future of the Colorado River.”

Documents produced by the “Colorado River Future Project” advising the new Administration on Colorado River matters, based on over 50 interviews with key thought leaders in the basin:

The On the Colorado website, maintained by a multi-faceted consortium of NGOs, maintains an amazingly thorough collection of Colorado River news and events, law and policy documents, feature articles, and links to dozens of other organizations, websites, and sources.

The Western Water Assessment, a joint science-oriented project between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado, maintains a Colorado River page that includes headings for Law and Policy, River Use Management and Planning, Regional Hydrology and Geography, Climate Variability and Change, Drought Impacts and Management, Restoration and Conservation, and Management and Research Organizations, among others.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation lists most of its Colorado River references at the Lower Colorado River office website.  Particularly useful links include those associated with reservoir levels, water use patterns, and the law of the river.  The site also houses information associated with the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study, a joint study between Reclamation and the Basin states examining long-term issues of supplies, demands, and potential solutions.  The website of the Upper Colorado River office has a wealth of information about Upper Basin facilities and environmental programs (including those associated with Glen Canyon).

Other useful links and collections: 

As the name implies, the Save the Colorado website is an environmental advocacy oriented resource providing a concise overview of river threats (including climate change, population growth, invasive species, mineral development, and diversions). 

The website of the Colorado River Water Users Association articulates the views of the largest collection of traditional Colorado River water users (i.e., irrigators, municipalities, power customers), listing specific policy resolutions primarily aimed at addressing problems of water scarcity and management conflicts.