“I wish to make it clear to you, there is not sufficient water to irrigate all the lands which could be irrigated, and only a small portion can be irrigated…I tell you, gentlemen, you are piling up a heritage of conflict!”– John Wesley Powell, Speech, Los Angeles International Irrigation Conference, 1893

Although many Western States are experiencing epic drought, Colorado headwater states are proposing to divert even more water out of the Colorado River. These additional depletions are justified by the Law of the River and the Colorado River Compact which makes it legal to use 7.5 million acre feet in both the Upper and Lower Colorado River Basin. What current policy isn’t accounting for is climate change, and the fact that ecosystems also require water to thrive. In this changing world, we need changing laws. Stay involved to ensure that current science plays a role in these policy decisions.

A huge quantity of new water diversions —more than 400,000 acre-feet of water—are being proposed in the headwater states for municipal, agricultural and energy development use. This is more water than all Phoenix residents use in an entire year. Moreover, this quantity of Colorado River water is just the beginning of new proposed diversions as states like Utah woo vast expansions of energy development that require gigantic new quantities of water.

Many new water diversions are proposed for urban users in the headwater states, which, per person, are among America’s biggest water users. While residents in Phoenix, Los Angeles and Las Vegas spent decades learning to use less water through water conservation, many headwater cities procrastinated investing in water conservation programs. One of the largest water diversions currently proposed in the Colorado River Basin, the Lake Powell Pipeline, is for a Utah city that uses twice as much water per person as residents in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Tucson and many other western cities.

Water conservation is an inexpensive alternative to many of the proposed water diversions sought in the headwater states.


Lake Powell Pipeline
Flaming Gorge Project (Aaron Million’s Pipedream)
Green River nuclear power
Windy Gap Firming Project
Moffat Collection System Project
Green River Block Water Rights Exchange
Price River Diversion