Serving the people of the American West, the nation, and the world through creative, interdisciplinary research, bold, inclusive teaching, and innovative problem solving in order to further true sustainability for our lands, waters, and environment.
To avoid possible curtailment of water uses from the Colorado River and its tributaries, Colorado and other Upper Basin states are experimenting with temporarily reducing some consumptive uses to make water available as a storage buffer in Lake Powell. This paper and its technical appendix examine the legal and policy issues associated with acquiring such water and “shepherding” it to Lake Powell, focusing primarily on Colorado but addressing the need for the water to pass through other states and to be managed once it reaches Lake Powell for compact security purposes.
Colorado's Water Plan documents not only the anticipated gap between water supply and demand over the next decades, but also the need to avoid or reduce "buy and dry" transactions that permanently remove water rights from irrigated farmland to facilitate a transfer to municipal use. The Plan proposes increased use of Alternative Transfer Methods, or ATMs, that facilitate sharing of water between farmers and cities without undermining continued agricultural use of the water. Several significant discussions about ATMs and how to make them attractive took place during the fall of 2016. This report documents the discussions, conclusions, and recommendations from those meetings, and outlines a path forward that will allow Colorado to meet its future needs while retaining its agricultural heritage. Co-authors include John Stulp, Governor Hickenlooper's water advisor, Anne Castle, Senior Fellow with the Getches-Wilkinson Center, and principals at the Colorado Water Institute.
The Colorado River Future project, led by Senior Fellow Anne Castle, has worked to develop policy recommendations on Colorado River Management for consideration by the leadership in the Department of the Interior in the Trump Administration. To inform these recommendations, a small team interviewed more than 65 key players involved in the Colorado River, encompassing state leadership, major municipal water suppliers, tribal representatives, environmental NGOs, and other smart and knowledgeable people. The Team members found a remarkable degree of consensus concerning issues that should be prioritized and the extreme urgency associated with the need for the new Federal team to get up to speed and involved as quickly as possible.
The project has produced two recommendations papers that have been transmitted to the Administration and transition teams. The first paper is a distillation of the two most critical priorities that will immediately confront the new Secretary of the Interior, the second document provides more detail intended to be helpful to senior-level leadership in Interior and the White House.
Documents available at the links below.
The Getches-Wilkinson Center has been provided with philanthropic funding to examine the Colorado Water Plan (CWP) and provide in-depth analysis and research on a few of the most promising action areas. This research has formed the basis for discussions with key players in the Colorado water community to determine the best practical approaches to ensure that implementation of the many good ideas in the CWP actually occurs. The research and analysis, together with implementation recommendations, are discussed in the papers available below.
Three new publications of the GWC Colorado State Water Plan Project are now available.
Please follow the link below to the Western Water Policy Page.
In October 2014, the Getches-Wilkinson Center sponsored a roundtable discussion featuring a diverse group of expert water jurists, water lawyers, water engineers, state water officials, and academics on Colorado water law and Colorado water policy. The workshop discussed one aspect of the state's water law that is seen by some as impeding the type of flexibility needed to avoid a crisis-namely the "no-injury rule." The full article appeared in the July 2015 issue of The Colorado Lawyer, and can be found here.
In the spring of 2015 the Getches-Wilkinson Center convened a group of renowned water policy experts to conduct a detailed review of the draft of the Colorado State Water Plan, with an emphasis on plan implementation, water management, climate change adaptation, and public water uses. This report reviews the current plan and provides conclusions and recommendations in five areas. This report was released by the Getches-Wilkinson Center and can be found here.