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Colorado River

Photo: Ron Mader, Near Nelson (Some rights reserved)

Wikipedia: The Colorado River is one of the principal rivers of the Southwestern United States and northern Mexico (the other being the Rio Grande). The 1,450-mile-long (2,330 km) river drains an expansive, arid watershed that encompasses parts of seven U.S. and two Mexican states. Starting in the central Rocky Mountains in the U.S., the river flows generally southwest across the Colorado Plateau and through the Grand Canyon before reaching Lake Mead on the Arizona–Nevada border, where it turns south toward the international border. After entering Mexico, the Colorado approaches the mostly dry Colorado River Delta at the tip of the Gulf of California between Baja California and Sonora.

Also see: Colorado River (Texas)

River Compact

In 1922, the Colorado River Compact divided the water supply of the Colorado River amongst seven adjacent states. Four upper states – Colorado (52 percent), Utah (23 percent), Wyoming (14 percent), and New Mexico (11 percent) – received 7.5 million acre-feet (maf) to share. Three lower states – California (59 percent), Arizona (37 percent), and Nevada (4 percent) – also received 7.5 maf to share. The total apportionment to all states is 15 maf.

Nevada is limited to our annual Colorado River apportionment of 0.3 maf to be drawn from Lake Mead each year.

Nearly 90 percent of all the water supplied to Southern Nevada communities comes from Lake Mead via the Colorado River. The remaining 10 percent comes from a deep groundwater aquifer beneath the Las Vegas Valley.

40 Million People Rely on the Colorado River. It’s Drying Up Fast. – Propublica
Colorado Is Examining Water Speculation, And Finding It’s “All The Problems” In One
Arizona Legislature wants feasibility study for long-distance pipeline to replenish Colorado River supply
The Colorado River Basin’s Worsening Dryness In Five Numbers – KNPR
‘The pie keeps shrinking’: Lake Mead’s low level will trigger water cutbacks for Arizona, Nevada@ByIanJames
How a trickle of water is breathing life into the parched Colorado River Delta
About 40 million people get water from the Colorado River. Studies show it’s drying up.
Western states buy time with a 7-year Colorado River drought plan, but face a hotter, drier future
Southern Nevada Water Authority board OKs Colorado River drought plan as Arizona, Colorado focus on resolving internal issues
Federal agency urges Colorado River states to complete drought plans as chances increase for Nevada, Arizona cutbacks

Recommended Listening
The Bad News Keeps Flowing For The Colorado River
Day ‘We Hoped We’d Never See’ Dawns On Colorado River
Water Managers Consider The Future Of The Colorado River


Lake Mead’s low water level prompts feds to consider declaration of Colorado River water shortage

Connecting to the Ocean
In March of 2014, the Colorado River reconnected with the ocean for the first time in 60 years. This was the result of the historic Minute 319 bi-national alliance between the U.S. and Mexican governments to restore this region, which enabled the March 2014 pulse flow, the first deliberate bi-national release of water into the Colorado River delta.

Bureau of Reclamation

Raise the River
Raise the River is a partnership of five non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working together for the benefit of the Colorado River Delta. Known as “the hardest working river in the Americas”, the Colorado River no longer meets its natural end in the Sea of Cortez. This has impacted communities whose history has been tied to a river which, today, no longer exists. Raise The River is comprised of the following organizations: The Redford Center, The Sonoran Institute, ProNatura Noroeste, National Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy. The Coalition has worked with policymakers, water agencies and governmental representatives from the U.S. and Mexico since 2012, to cooperatively create historic change for the Colorado River Delta.

Save the Colorado
We fights dams and advocate for eco-centrism to protect and restore the Colorado River, the Cache la Poudre River, and rivers across the planet.

Colorado Basin River Forecast Center
The Colorado Basin River Forecast Center – cbrfc.noaa.gov – produces water supply forecasts for the Colorado River Basin and the eastern Great Basin.

Stray Observations

  • The Colorado River gets saltier as it heads south to Mexico


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Colorado River
Colorado River Compact
Lower Colorado River Valley


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