Much of the initial reaction to last week’s release of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Colorado River study had been heard before, owing to a prior release of data. Headlines focused on the study’s earlier forecast of a 3.2 million acre-feet shortfall throughout the Colorado River Basin in the coming decades, and prepared remarks from water interests tended to reiterate prior positions.
Utilities and providers across the West were quick to acknowledge the need for basin-wide collaboration, conservation where possible and responsible stewardship. Environmental voices continued to stress the current imbalance in the river system, where demand now exceeds supply in some years. Colorado-based Protect the Flows characterized the study as a self-serving effort by states to justify federally funded water projects.
The release of the study’s final phase was timed to coincide with the annual Colorado River Users Conference in Las Vegas. Several things stood out in conference presentations that referenced the study: