Kenney on How to Fix Our River Management System

Doug Kenney, the University of Colorado law school guy who is going bold in his push toward Colorado River management solutions, has a Denver Post op-ed this morning that looks toward innovative solutions that, importantly, work the problem without requiring us to tear up the Colorado River Compact:

If dry conditions continue as predicted, the upper basin states may be unable to make any reliable new claims to use Colorado River water, because the current Law of the River requires them to deliver a minimum amount of flow downstream to the lower basin. Conversely, while the Law of the River theoretically gives the lower basin states the right to receive that flow, actually enforcing that right against the upper basin could take years and cost millions of dollars.

Fortunately, momentum is building for a better approach. A growing body of studies is both documenting the current predicament and beginning to assess a range of possible solutions. To be politically viable, any such solutions must not require altering the core provisions of the 1922 Colorado River Compact, which most parties consider inviolate. But what is viable is the concept of using those provisions as a foundation upon which to build new agreements that more effectively achieve the original goals of the Compact. The states have a history of doing just that. Just three years ago, for example, they negotiated the 2007 Colorado River Accord, which established new rules to improve river management under dry conditions. It’s a notable start, although not enough to constitute a long-term solution to the river’s woes.