Colorado River Basin Study Overview

Colorado River, AZ, CO, NV, UT | vnvlain

Colorado River, AZ, CO, NV, UT faces low water levels at the Hoover Dam | vnvlain

In December 2012, the Bureau of Reclamation released the Colorado River Basin Study, a comprehensive look at projected water shortages and outdated water management in a basin that the American west has drawn heavily on for decades.

The study recognizes the ongoing drought in the Colorado Basin which, combined with a growing basin population and the intensifying effects of climate change, will make sustainable water management a matter of critical importance in coming years. The average imbalance in supply and demand, the study projects, will likely exceed 3.2 million acre feet by 2060.

The study also examines proposed strategies for better water management in the Colorado Basin, submitted by stakeholders, study participants, and the public. While it proposes no answers, the study aims to explore practical, cost-effective solutions to growing water supply and demand imbalances.

The Colorado River and its tributaries provide water to 40 million people and irrigate nearly 4 million acres of land annually. They support 7 National Wildlife Refuges, 11 National Parks, and 4 National Recreation Areas. By assessing the current state of water supply and demand, the Colorado River Basin Study provides a foundation for moving forward with a sustainable water future and protecting one of our nation’s most precious resources.