The poets down here don’t write nothin’ at all, they just stand back and let it all be.

Colorado has no plans to make additional cuts to water use next year to meet the Bureau of Reclamation’s demand to conserve millions of acre-feet of water, a step needed to preserve power production in Lake Powell and Lake Mead.

Instead, Colorado officials insist that other states should do the cutting.

“I think that at this point, we stand ready to hear what the Lower Basin has in mind,” said Amy Ostdiek, a section chief with the Colorado Water Conservation Board.


“You can stand on your legal theories and watch the system crash,” (Anne Castle) said. “But that doesn’t help anybody.”



  1. So it comes to the Feds. This is predictable.
    Call me crazy, but why, at this time, should Powell release more water than what is “naturally” receiving? Dumping the upstream reserves strikes me as a dangerous gamble.
    I believe there are 8 turbines in Glenn Canyon Dam. So don’t use them all. Keep some power going.
    Can the penstocks be closed?
    The options must be in the literature somewhere. Anybody know the links? Are their people in the Federal process that know the options? Or did Trump get rid of them?

  2. The state of Colorado is in a real sticky wicket.
    Colorado, as the source of much of the original water rights laws and SCOTUS water rights decisions, has the most to lose AND, have the biggest knock-on effects. Water Colorado must send to Nebraska and Kansas comes in part from Colorado River basin diversions that are sent to the eastern slope, and eventually go to the Arkansas and Platte Rivers.
    So not surprised that the State of Colorado is standing pat. Lots of moving pieces, and few easy ways out. Can anyone see a 2022 or 2023 compact happening?

  3. We’re just seeing the tip of the Iceberg now. Things are just beginning to get nasty. I suspect that it will get worse. Cities will have to cut back in both consumption and growth. Farmers will have to cut back on the one resource that has made them prosperous for decades. Everyone involved will lose money in either lost revenues or higher costs depending on how they factor into the equation. Nobody will be happy having to do with less and paying more.

    How do we mitigate this? The existing Compact is 100 years old. It’s based on faulty data and has been ‘adjusted’ over the years with other agreements. Much like an insurance policy with amendments and endorsements. The policy is flawed with the times and people are afraid of losing any ‘grandfathered’ status.

    As noted by an earlier comment: Should the Compact be rewritten for the times? Or should the Federal Government step in? Ironically, it plays out like a game show.

    Door #1: Keep the Compact ‘as-is’. Like an old car (that is on its last legs). We can fix it. At least we still own it. Expect a lot of trouble on the road ahead.

    Door #2: Rewrite the Compact to correctly fit the times and circumstances. Yeah, buy that new car. Expect to drive it less as there is a fuel shortage. Expect times that you may not get minimal usage. However, everyone had a say in the matter.

    Door #3: Let the finance company repossess the car. Your Uncle will bail you out. The problem being that he will look out for the best interests of the vehicle. After all, we only have one car.

    I’m glad that I’m not in the position to make these decisions. I’d pick the wrong door and have to live with my choice.

    As I said, it plays out like something you see on Television. The movie equivalent being the movie “The Titanic”. We’re currently in Act 3 and the boat is going down. And people are heading to the lifeboats. It’s just beginning to get nasty.

  4. I live in CO, grew up in AZ, so see it from both sides. I agree CO needs to start imposing some restrictions, particularly for things like lawns and unusable landscaping turf, as well as requiring more efficient use of water for ag producers in all states. But we bolstered flows last year and this by draining our own reservoirs – at some point soon, the upper basin will be trying to squeeze water out of stones.

    The Lower Basin has been using more water than they are entitled to for many years and ignoring the scientists who said for years (see the great article in the past few days in the LA Times) that Powell would never fill again because there was less going in (due to drought, not Upper Basin overuse) than going out. But no one acted.

    And all the basin states, especially UT and AZ, should be curtailing growth unless developers have absolute proof of adequate water for the next 100 years (not just some piece of paper claiming it or ignoring it completely) rather than continuing to rely on growth as their sole economic driver and the myth that development pays for itself. What we have already is not sustainable; adding to it is insanity.

  5. Thoughtful comments all. I grew up in Colorado, and now live in California, so I appreciate how hard this is going to be to get an agreement done.
    The state of Colorado with their Colorado river basin, west slope to east slope diversions, may have the hardest justification as to why they are not delivering more water downstream. The Platte River into Nebraska, the Arkansas River into Kansas, dozens of cities on the eastern front range, and hundreds of reservoirs near the eastern front range all are dependent on the West Slope, Colorado River Basin water diversions.
    Although the water is diverted early, and is not often talked about, it is the primary use of Colorado river water in the state of Colorado. Those acre feet need to be on the table when decisions get made.
    I wonder if more water flows east in Colorado than flows into the Colorado riverbed before it flows to Utah. Can anyone help with that question?

Comments are closed.