Municipal Water Leader
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Volume 3 Issue 10 November/December 2017 Maximizing a Limited Resource: A Look at Colorado River Management

In this issue of Municipal Water Leader, we share some stories about the lifeblood of the Southwest, the Colorado River. Millions of lives spanning two countries and seven states depend of the successful management of the river’s waters. Water managers on the river work within a complex web of rights, agreements, and shared responsibilities within the greater framework of the Law of the River.

Dr. Terry Fulp lives and breathes the Colorado River. As the Lower Colorado Regional Director of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, he carries out the secretary of the Interior's role as watermaster of the Lower Colorado River, ensuring the delivery of 9 million acre-feet of water and the generation of 6 billion kilowatt-hours of hydroelectric energy. That is no small feat.

In our cover interview, Dr. Fulp discusses the latest management efforts to enhance supply and conservation on the Colorado River through the negotiation and development of Minute 323 to the Treaty of February 3, 1944. Minute 323 continues the spirit of agreement among the basin states, the United States, and Mexico to, as Dr. Fulp describes it, “share the gain of high-flow years and share the pain of low-flow years.”

In addition, Bill Hasencamp, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s manager of Colorado River Resources, discusses the critical role the river plays in the supply portfolio of his district and his state. He describes it as “the backbone.” Metropolitan, however, has not rested on its allotment of Colorado River water. Over the years, the district has implemented creative management strategies to maximize that allotment. Through partnerships and collaboration, the district has been able to leverage that supply to help guide its customers through times of serious drought.

We also speak to John Powell Jr., the president of the board of directors of the Coachella Valley Water District (CVWD), about the value of the imported Colorado River water to the Coachella Valley. Across hundreds of miles, via the All-American and Coachella Canals, the river’s waters breathe life into the arid valley and support domestic deliveries, agricultural production, and aquifer recharge. To ensure those benefits, CVWD works with other entities reliant on the river. Mr. Powell says it best, “All of us who are dependent on the river have worked together to address drought contingency planning and make sure we are able to continue providing our customers with this precious resource.”

We hope this issue conveys a small sense of not only the enormous responsibility that water managers on the Colorado face, but also the collaboration and creativity involved with maximizing the health and economic benefits of the river.

Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Municipal Water Leader and Irrigation Leader magazines. He is also president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations, marketing, and publishing company he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at Kris.Polly@wateretrategies.com