How much water is there in the Colorado, and who needs what?

As we await the release of the next release from the Bureau of Reclamation’s Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study, a story by Chris Woodka nicely captures the tension as basin states try to influence the process by telling the Bureau what their long terms needs are:

“I think the question is: ‘What is the result of overdevelopment of Colorado River water, and who suffers the consequences?’ ” said John McClow, an attorney who represents the Gunnison River basin on the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

McClow said the task is difficult because sharing the information with other states could hurt Colorado’s position in ongoing negotiations with other states.

It’s a classic game theory problem. States that acknowledge the river’s limitations and therefore limit their own water use risk losing supply to states that don’t.