The State of the Rockies Project summer research team headed south in 2011 with a tall task, to follow the Colorado River from its headwaters in the Rockies, to the Mexican Delta where the River traditionally reached the sea. From Colorado Springs the team crossed Colorado over the Rockies into the Colorado River Basin, then traveled south into Utah and Arizona, continuing all the way into Mexico, tracing the course of the River and investigating the issues in the Basin. From the border they headed back north, stopping at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon and the Navajo Nation, before finally making the long haul back home to Colorado Springs. Covering over 3400 miles, the trip reinforced the gravity of many issues the team had already been researching from afar at Colorado College.
The 2014 State of the Rockies Report Card is entitled "Large Landscape Conservation in the Rockies : Exploring New Conservation Paradigms for the Twenty-First Century." Building upon two years of focus on a very large conservation area in the Rockies, The Colorado River Basin, during 2013-14 the project team returned to an analysis of the eight-state region's land and environment. The project team delved into the techniques of "creative conservation" and "large landscape conservation" to provide comprehensive insight into innovative conservation actions and tools in the region. Using tabular and spatial techniques, the project team has begun to build a detailed inventory of conservation efforts and initiatives underway in the Rockies.
The 2012 summer research team headed into the field for their research trip with the aim of better understanding the multitude of Colorado River water uses and values. Developing on the Project's successes from the previous year this year's focus looks to the future and the implications of mounting pressures from agriculture, municipal and industrial uses, and diversions for energy on an already stressed river basin. A week in Canyonland's Cataract Canyon brought the researchers up close and personal with the river.
Scarcity of water resources necessitates an understanding of residential water pricing and demand, two factors certain to affect water usage in the coming years. This paper pursues a discussion of water pricing theory and previous studies on residential water demand. The culmination of the paper is an analysis of residential water demand in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a city reliant on water from the Colorado River Basin, a seriously stressed water system. A fixed-effect regression with Driscoll-Kraay standard errors is utilized to analyze a panel data set providing average monthly residential water consumption per cubic feet (CF), for forty water consumption zones over the ten-year period January 2000 to December 2009. The study analyzes a number of exogenous variables including average education level to determine the influence of less obvious factors on residential water consumption. Main findings indicate increases in most measures of wealth corresponded positively with residential consumption, but not all. Above average education levels of certain age groups and household value are suggested to have negative relationships with water consumption, so that areas with above average education levels of 18-24 year olds are using less water. For the stressed Colorado River Basin these finding suggest increased investment in education, and full accounting for the price of water resources under block rate schedules will serve effective tools for water demand management.
The 2013 State of the Rockies Report Card is entitled "Water Friendly Futures for the Colorado River Basin." The 2012-13 Rockies Project focus, for a second year, is the Colorado River Basin. The Colorado River Basin, covering a major portion of the eight-state Rockies region and extending into Mexico, has been the unified focus for all parts to the State of the Rockies Project during summer 2011 and the 2011-12 academic year and again for summer 2012 and 2012-13.
The 2012 State of the Rockies Report Card entitled "The Colorado River Basin: Agenda for Use, Restoration, and Sustainability for the Next Generation," includes a summary of the Rockies Project Source to Sea trip, an investigation into the Colorado River's many diversions and uses, and an assessment of the "Law of the River," among many other topics.