Record or near-record snowpack in states along the Colorado River Basin has spurred hope that the river––a lifeline for many communities and metropolises in the seven Basin states––will return to normal levels.
The snowpack, however, is only a short-term solution to the long-term problem of how to allocate the river’s water. The Basin states are currently at odds on how to reduce river usage amid increasing extreme weather events and growing populations in the American Southwest.
As your newsrooms plan on Colorado River coverage this year, CU Boulder experts are available to discuss the policy changes needed to save the river and how climate change plays a role.
Mark Squillace is professor of natural resources law with a particular interest on water issues, including the Colorado River Basin. He can discuss policy changes needed to save the river and the communities who rely on it, how the seven Colorado River Basin states are doing in their work to come up with a plan to reduce river usage by mid-August of this year and other topics related to the Colorado River or the Colorado River Compact.
Edith Zagona is a research professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering and director of the Center for Advanced Decision Support for Water and Environmental Systems (CADSWES). She can discuss modeling and projections of operations and future conditions of the river, methods for decision-making under deep uncertainty and using these techniques in working with stakeholders, and how operating policies may need to look different in the future to be more robust to highly uncertain and more variable future hydrologic conditions and demands.
On hydrology and drought
Ragagopalan Balaji (Dr. Rajagopalan) is professor of hydrology and water resources in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering and a fellow at the Cooperative Institute of Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). He has worked with the Center for Advanced Decision Support for Water and Environmental Systems (CADSWES) for two decades and has a profound understanding of the hydrology of the basin over short and long timescales. He can discuss the variability of flow in the Colorado River; sustained droughts, such as the current prolonged drought of over two decades, in historical and paleo context; and the sustainability of water resources in the river basin.
Noah Molotch is associate professor of geography, a fellow at and lead for the Mountain Hydrology Group at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR). He can discuss mountain snowpack, water supply and drought; new satellite technology for measuring water; and the possible impacts of climate change on water availability, recreation, floods and wildfire hazards.
Ben Livneh is assistant professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering and a fellow at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES). He can discuss how changing snow conditions affect drought in Colorado and the Western U.S.; the impacts of climate change on water availability; and how changes in wildfire activity can lead to impacts on water quality and landslide risk. Note: He has limited availability through June 2023.