Posts from October, 2011
The third State of the Rockies Project Speakers Series event is a week away. Come out and hear a panel on: The Colorado River Basin- Environmental Perspectives and Action.
For the third State of the Rockies Project Speakers Series event of the year, the Project will be hosting a panel on: The Colorado River Basin- Environmental Perspectives and Action. The panel will consist of experts from across the environmental field working on different issues throughout the Basin. Bart Miller, of Western Resource Advocates, heads up the organization’s water program. At WRA he works to promote urban water use efficiency, minimize water-related impacts of energy development, and protect and restore river flows. Jennifer Pitt manages the Environmental Defense Fund’s efforts on the Colorado River, specifically to restore the Delta and reform water policy. Her expertise includes the US-Mexico border environmental issues, the legal and policy framework for Colorado River management, the economics of water use and water transfers, and the science of river restoration. Tom Chart has spent his career largely working for State and Federal agencies and is now the Director of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program. His graduate studies got him hooked on the native fishes of the Colorado River system when he studied the initial effects of mainstem impoundment on the fish community of Colorado’s White River, and he has largely remained in the field ever since.
For all of you who were unable to attend our second Speakers Series event of the year with Justice Gregory Hobbs and U of WY Professor of Law Larry MacDonnell on 10/17, here is a a short YouTube video covering some of the highlights of the talk:
Pueblo Chieftain article discusses Rockies Project 10/17 talk with Justice Greg Hobbs and Professor Larry MacDonnell
Take a look at Chris Woodka’s article in the Pueblo Chieftain regarding last week’s Rockies Project Speakers Series event on the Law of the Colorado River Basin. The article speaks to the differing views of both men regarding the legal framework of the Basin: http://www.chieftain.com/news/local/colorado-river-law-time-for-change/article_f0e0e0a6-fdf3-11e0-85eb-001cc4c03286.html
State of the Rockies Project: Two environmental law experts discussed Monday at The Colorado College the laws controlling Colorado River water allocation
For millions of years, the Colorado River was an unbroken chain from the headwaters of Longs Peak in the Colorado Rockies to the Sea of Cortez delta in Mexico. But since 1998, overuse of the river’s water has left 90 miles of dry delta.
The Bureau of Reclamation maintains that Westerners are using every drop of the river, yet the demand for its water is expected to increase substantially over the next decades.
What can be done to balance the growing utilitarian need and preservation of the Colorado River?
The laws governing the river were addressed Monday, Oct. 17, during the second of The Colorado College’s State of the Rockies Project 2011-12 Monthly Speaker and Conference Series. The series examines the use, restoration and sustainability of the Colorado River Basin.
Greg Hobbs, a Colorado Supreme Court judge, and Lawrence MacDonnell, a law professor at the University of Wyoming College of Law, talked to about 300 students, faculty and El Paso County residents in Celeste South Theater on The Colorado College campus in Colorado Springs. The event was titled “The Colorado River Basin: Rigid Relic or Flexible Foundation for the Future?”
Hobbs and MacDonnell spoke of preserving river water through sensible use, and of solutions to the perfect storm of more demand for a finite resource.
The speakers said areas for conservation might occur in the unreasonably high allocation of water to California’s Imperial Valley, which gets one-fifth of the Colorado River water, and the high cost of delivering river water to metropolitan Arizona.
Solutions involved placing a limit on how much water new projects can allocate and decreasing use by the Lower Colorado River Basin.
“All these are easily doable by existing laws of the river and some new laws,” MacDonnell said, though he wondered if, politically, any of it was possible.
“My guess is we’ll wait to the crisis happens, when reservoirs are empty,” MacDonnell said. As humans, “we tend to put off unpleasant tasks” until the last minute.
Hobbs and MacDonnell also said that Westerners don’t value water because they don’t realize its actual cost. “If people paid anything close to what water actually costs,” MacDonnell said, “you would have different decisions being made.”
A short Q & A followed the speaker presentations.
A student wondered how you get companies, city governments and consumers to use less water when legally they are allowed their quota. Neither of the speakers had a good answer.
The next State of the Rockies speaker event is November 7 at the campus. It’s titled “The Colorado River Basin: Environmental Perspectives and Action.” Speaking at that event will be Bart Miller, a water program director at Western Resource Advocates; Jennifer Pitt, manager of the Environmental Defense Fund; and Tom Chart, an expert on fish biology. All series events are free and open to the public.
For more on upcoming State of the Rockies speaker events, go to http://www2.coloradocollege.edu/stateoftherockies/speakerseries.html.
Written by Mark Barna, State of the Rockies Project Writer
The Law of the Colorado River Basin- Rigid Relic or Flexible Foundation for the Future? Tonight (10/17) at 7pm!
The second State of the Rockies Speakers Series event of the year is tonight! Come join us at 7pm in the Celeste South Theater of the Cornerstone Arts Center on the CC campus to hear Colorado Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hobbs and U of WY Professor of Law Larry MacDonnell speak on The Law of the Colorado River Basin- Rigid Relic or Flexible Foundation for the Future?
The Colorado River Basin faces mounting challenges for the future, including the implications of climate change and the exploding demographic trends of the West. Roughly 27 million people rely on the river for water, energy, and healthy ecosystems. Studies predict that by 2050 the river system will be unable to meet the growing demand from the next generation. Can a nearly 90-year-old set of laws weather the turbulence of the 21st century? The Colorado River Basin is ruled by a compilation of decrees, rights, court decisions, and laws that together are referred to as the “Law of the River.” The keystone of these “commandments” is the 1922 Colorado River Compact, an interstate agreement created by the seven basin states with provisions for general water allotments. As municipalities, agriculture, and environmental interests jockey for continued water supplies in the face of projected diminished flows, will the Law of the River be able to bend under new stresses or will it break? For this talk, Colorado Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs and Colorado River legal scholar Professor Larry MacDonnell will discuss the implications of the river’s legal foundation for the next generation.
Come out to the Cornerstone Arts Center on the CC campus next Monday 10/17 to hear Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs and U of WY Law Professor Larry MacDonnell speak on The Law of the Colorado River Basin: Rigid Relic or Flexible Foundation for the Future?