"The Colorado River Compact: Effective or Obsolete?" was the subject of debate at the Third Annual Carver Colloquium held recently at Denver Law.
The Colorado River Compact, signed in 1922, involves the upper basin states of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, and the lower basin states of Arizona, California, New Mexico and Nevada. It sets the allocation of water from the river among the seven states.
Co-sponsored by the John A. Carver, Jr., Chair at Denver Law, the Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute (RMLUI), and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the Carver Colloquium explored two competing sides to the Colorado River Compact issue. Jim Lochhead, CEO and manager of Denver Water, asserted that the compact should be maintained as it now is. On the other side, Denver Law Professor Tom Romero argued that the compact is in need of revision or complete re-writing.
Professor Jan Laitos, current holder of the John A. Carver, Jr. Chair, began the evening by noting that, "The Colorado River is the lifeblood of the American southwest. This region could not have grown as it has without the Colorado River."
Susan Daggett, director of the RMLUI, said, "Negotiated almost a century ago, the Colorado River Compact allocates water supply among many of the western states, but it may be outdated. The compact overestimated the amount of water available from the Colorado River and failed to anticipate current and future demands on the river that have been exacerbated by climate change. Jim Lochhead and Tom Romero explained why this is such a crucial issue and two different futures for the compact."