Published: Oct. 4, 2019

Hoover DamThe Water Desk, a journalism initiative at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Center for Environmental Journalism, has awarded its first grants to support journalists and media outlets covering Western water issues and the Colorado River Basin.

Grantees will delve into a wide range of issues throughout the region, including biodiversity, pollution, groundwater, climate change, public lands, energy development and tribal water rights. The journalists and outlets will use a variety of media—newspapers, magazines, websites, television, radio—to explore critical challenges facing the West’s water.

The recipients of The Water Desk’s 2019 standard grants (in alphabetical order):

“We’re at a watershed moment for both water issues and the journalism industry, so we’re excited to be supporting these important projects,” said Mitch Tobin, director of The Water Desk. “We were impressed by the quality of the applications, the diversity of topics proposed and the mix of approaches that the journalists will pursue.”

The Water Desk’s standard grants award up to $10,000 to journalists and media outlets covering water issues involving the seven states of the Colorado River Basin—Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming—as well as the borderlands of Northwest Mexico.

For the 12 standard grants, The Water Desk has approved a total of $112,888 in funding for journalists.

In addition to the standard grants, The Water Desk has also approved 10 micro-grants, up to $1,000 each, to support travel expenses, multimedia content and professional development for water journalists.

Applications for the standard grants were reviewed and approved by a selection committee consisting of: Mitch Tobin, director of The Water Desk; Tom Yulsman, director of the Center for Environmental Journalism; Hillary Rosner, scholar-in-residence at the Center for Environmental Journalism; and Amanda Clark, a recent graduate of CU Boulder’s master’s program in journalism who worked for The Water Desk.

The Water Desk will be running a similar program for standard grants in 2020 and is still accepting applications for 2019 micro-grants. Details about the grantmaking program are at

About The Water Desk

Based at the College of Media, Communication and Information’s Center for Environmental Journalism, The Water Desk is dedicated to increasing increase the volume, depth and impact of journalism connected to Western water issues, with a focus on the Colorado River Basin.

The Water Desk launched in April 2019 with support from a two-year $700,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation. The Water Desk is seeking additional funding to build and sustain the initiative. As a journalistic effort, The Water Desk maintains a strict editorial firewall between its content and funders. Likewise, The Water Desk has editorial independence from the University of Colorado Boulder. For its grantmaking program, The Water Desk has a policy of confidentiality with regard to submitted story ideas. Funders of The Water Desk have no right of review and no influence on stories or other journalistic content that is produced with the support of these grants.

Learn more about The Water Desk »