Colorado College State of the Rockies Project presents ‘The Law and the Colorado River’ October 17


Update: I had the wrong date in the original headline.

Here’s the release from Colorado College (Leslie Weddell):

Can a 90-Year-Old Set of Colorado River Laws Work in the 21st Century?
Colorado Supreme Court Justice and Colorado River Legal Scholar
 to Discuss Implications of the Law of the River

The future of the Colorado River Basin faces mounting challenges, including climate change and an exploding population growth in the West. Although roughly 27 million people rely on the river for water, energy and healthy ecosystems, some expert studies predict that by 2050 the river system will not be able to consistently meet the needs of those dependent upon it.

Can a nearly 90-year-old set of laws weather the turbulence of the 21st century?

Come hear Colorado Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs and Colorado River legal scholar Larry MacDonnell, of the University of Wyoming’s College of Law, discuss the implications of the river’s legal foundation for the next generation at 7 p.m., Monday, Oct. 17 in the Richard F. Celeste Theatre in the Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave., on the Colorado College campus.

The Colorado River Basin is ruled by a compilation of decrees, rights, court decisions and laws that together are referred to as the “Law of the River.” The keystone of these “commandments” is the 1922 Colorado River Compact, an interstate agreement created by the seven basin states with provisions for general water allotments. As municipalities, agriculture and environmental interests jockey for continued water supplies in the face of projected diminished flows, will the Law of the River be able to bend under new stresses or will it break?

This free talk is part the Colorado College State of the Rockies 2011-12 Project Speakers Series, where leading experts and well-known river advocates examine the Colorado River Basin and the complex water use, environmental and economic challenges facing future generations.

Monthly programs are scheduled through January 2012, leading up to a public conference April 8-10 where students will present the 2012 State of the Rockies Report, which examines current water, agricultural and recreational issues in the Basin and highlights how economic, demographic and climate changes will impact what the Colorado River looks like to future generations. Sessions with national experts will also explore the future of the Basin.

More water law coverage here.

At the first presentation in the series Jonathan Waterman and Peter McBride tag-teamed a presentation about their book The Colorado River Flowing Through Conflict. Here’s a report about their recent appearance in Sante Fe, from the Sante Fe New Mexican. From the article:

McBride and Waterman are promoting efforts by the nonprofit Sonoran Institute and Patagonia, the designer of outdoor clothing and gear, to raise awareness of the river’s plight and raise funds to purchase water rights.

Their recently published book, The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict (Westcliffe Publishers, 2011), explores that idea as it showcases McBride’s gorgeous color aerial and underwater photos, and Waterman’s lucid prose. McBride also has produced an accompanying short film, Chasing Water.

McBride is particularly intimate with the river. Growing up on a Colorado cattle ranch, he played in and irrigated with Colorado River water. Only when he worked on the book with Waterman did he realize that the river no longer reaches all the way to the Sea of Cortez as it once did — and that a once-thriving 3,000-square-mile delta is the victim of the dryness.

“The river ran to the delta for 6 million years, and it stopped in the late 1990s,” McBride said during a recent visit to Santa Fe. “I think adding a little bit of water, and there are groups working on that, could bring (the delta) back quickly.”

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

Leave a Reply