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Water Law

Headwaters Fall 2005--The Rio Grande Basin

Headwaters magazineRead feature articles on the Rio Grande Basin below, view or download the online issue for the full magazine.

Watermarks--Letter from the Editor

Leadership Rio Grande Style

This July, in preparation for this ‘Basin Focus’ issue of Headwaters, I attended the Rio Grande Water Conservation District meeting in Alamosa. Around the state, at board meetings like these, so many of our immediate water policies are hatched—whether at the annual meeting of the local ditch board, or the bi-monthly three-day meetings of the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

Read more: Watermarks--Letter from the Editor

New Report Promotes ‘Smart’ Water Use and Supply

BOULDER—Conservation, efficiency, reuse and water sharing between cities and farmers are higher priorities than building new reservoirs, concludes a new study just released by a consortium of Colorado environmental concerns. Their detailed report Facing Our Future: A Balanced Water Solution for Colorado takes an alternative look at how to satisfy the state's growing demands for water.

Read more: New Report Promotes ‘Smart’ Water Use and Supply

Bureau Celebrates 75th Year Anniversary of Water Lab

DENVER—The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation celebrated the 75th anniversary of its Water Resources Research Laboratory on August 19. Housed at the Federal Center in west Denver, the lab is the only one of its kind in the nation. A quiet cornerstone of modern water storage and development projects, the laboratory has tested and helped engineer the design of most all the major dams in the West: Shasta, Hoover, Glen Canyon, Grand Cooley, Imperial, as well as the All American Canal and others.

Read more: Bureau Celebrates 75th Year Anniversary of Water Lab

What is Causing Algae Blooms in the Animas River?

DURANGO—Since 2003, the Animas Nutrients Working Group has been sampling the waters of the Animas River Basin to help understand where high concentrations of nutrients may be entering the river. Motivated by ropey blooms of green algae that started appearing in the river during the summer of 2002, this unique group of governmental agencies, tribes, cities and watershed groups from Colorado and New Mexico, is attempting to understand and mitigate the source of the problem.

Read more: What is Causing Algae Blooms in the Animas River?

Rio Grande Basin

The headwaters of the Rio Grande Basin help feed a river system that produces the fifth-longest river in North America. Traveling 1,885 miles from its headwaters to its mouth in the Gulf of Mexico, the Rio Grande carries water from three states in the U.S. and five in Mexico.

Read more: Rio Grande Basin

1938 Rio Grande Compact Meters Water to Thirsty Basin

Traveling 1,885 miles through Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and five Mexican states, the Rio Grande's history is marked by conflict and debate as countries and states fought for what they believed to be their fair share of the river.

In 1906, treaty negotiations between the U.S. and Mexico established how much Rio Grande water Mexico would receive. But the states of Colorado, New Mexico and Texas still had no formal agreement on how to divide the waters among them. When farmers in Colorado's San Luis Valley sought to increase diversions of the river to bring more acreage into production, New Mexico and Texas quickly voiced their opposition. They feared such diversions would compromise the Rio Grande Project, a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation system which supplies agricultural irrigation water to those two states.

Read more: 1938 Rio Grande Compact Meters Water to Thirsty Basin

Preserving Wetlands in an Alpine Desert

By Marcia Darnell

The San Luis Valley of southern Colorado is known as an agricultural land of plenty. Its potatoes, wheat, alfalfa, barley and other bounty make their way to feedlots and dinner plates throughout the region. However, meteorologists say this breadbasket is technically a desert, averaging less than 8 inches of precipitation per year.

Read more: Preserving Wetlands in an Alpine Desert

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Water Law Resources

Guide to Colorado Water Law explores the basics of Colorado water law--learn how it has developed and how it is applied today. This, WEco's most popular Citizen's Guide, was authored by Colorado Supreme Court Justice, and WEco Board Vice President, Gregory Hobbs. Take a look or purchase a copy.


Law Supplement Headwaters magazine a special edition of Headwaters that provides an in-depth look at Colorado water law. Browse the magazine to supplement our Citizen's Guide and your knowledge. View it here

Administration Headwaters magazine read how enforcing the law in our water-scarce state can get tricky and meet the men and women who allocate Colorado's most precious resource. Browse the issue here.

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