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  • Thumbnail for An analysis of alternatives for water distribution between municipal and agricultural users of Colorado River water
    An analysis of alternatives for water distribution between municipal and agricultural users of Colorado River water by Hardin, Sally

    The Colorado River is often referred to as the “lifeblood” of the American Southwest, as it sustains rapidly growing cities, feeds millions of agricultural acres, and forms some of the world’s most incredible natural features. The Colorado River is also one of the most highly dammed, diverted, and otherwise regulated rivers in the world. In the last few decades, the demands on the flows of this river have begun to exceed its supply, which is threatened not merely by over-allocation but also by drought and climatic uncertainties. The river’s dwindling supplies are no longer enough to support the Southwest’s rapid population growth in municipal areas while simultaneously answering to the demands of the more senior water rights holders, the agriculturalists. This thesis is an exploration of the current contentions between agricultural and municipal users of Colorado River water, with a focus on the alternatives available to address these ongoing issues. Of many options, including increased infrastructure and various conservation measures, water banking has been identified as the strategy most socially, economically, and environmentally qualified to address these pervasive imbalances in water supply and demand of the Colorado River.