Alternative Management Paradigms for the Future of the Colorado and Green Rivers


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Created: Jul 08, 2022 at 1:45 p.m.
Last updated: Jul 11, 2022 at 2:42 p.m.
DOI: 10.4211/hs.59175cf99a58462f901cdf56ec79ddbe
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Abstract

Our ability to sustainably manage the Colorado River is clearly in doubt. The Bureau of Reclamation’s 2012 Water Supply and Demand Study demonstrated the precarious balance that currently exists between water supply and the amount consumptively used by society. A future with either declining water supplies or additional consumptive uses will undoubtedly upset this balance. This balance is threatened because: (1) climate change science predicts that watershed runoff will decline due to increased evapotranspiration from rising temperatures; and (2) water users, especially in the Upper Basin, aspire to increase consumptive uses by developing new projects. This white paper describes how declining runoff and increased consumptive use will impact water supplies and ecosystems, and also considers how these risks can be addressed.

The objective of the White Paper is to encourage wide-ranging and innovative thinking about how to sustainably manage the water supply, while simultaneously encouraging the negotiators of new agreements to consider their effects on ecosystems. To achieve this objective, we introduce a wide variety of alternative management paradigms that offer significant modifications or entirely new approaches to the status quo. Because of the magnitude and severity of the impending challenges that the basin faces, we intentionally describe and evaluate approaches that some might consider radical due to existing and assumed physical or management constraints. However, all infrastructural and institutional constraints on the Colorado River have been developed over only the last century, and to assume that decisions must remain bound by such constraints may limit our ability to identify innovative solutions needed to meet the challenges ahead. The goal of this white paper is to encourage conversation and consideration of new management concepts that will better meet future needs.

Subject Keywords

Resource Level Coverage

Spatial

Coordinate System/Geographic Projection:
WGS 84 EPSG:4326
Coordinate Units:
Decimal degrees
Place/Area Name:
Colorado River Basin
North Latitude
43.1923°
East Longitude
-105.0792°
South Latitude
30.5901°
West Longitude
-116.1303°

Content

Credits

Funding Agencies

This resource was created using funding from the following sources:
Agency Name Award Title Award Number
Future of the Colorado River, Catena Foundation Grant 202059
The Walton Family Foundation Grant 2018-585
My Good Fund
David Bonderman fund
Janet Quinney Lawson Chair in Colorado River Studies endowment
Utah Water Research Laboratory funding
Oxford Martin Programme on Transboundary Resource Management

How to Cite

Wheeler, K., E. Kuhn, L. Bruckerhoff, B. Udall, J. Wang, L. Gilbert, S. A. Goeking, A. Kasprak, B. A. Mihalevich, B. Neilson, H. Salehabadi, J. C. Schmidt (2022). Alternative Management Paradigms for the Future of the Colorado and Green Rivers, HydroShare, https://doi.org/10.4211/hs.59175cf99a58462f901cdf56ec79ddbe

This resource is shared under the Creative Commons Attribution CC BY.

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
CC-BY

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