COLORADO RIVER COMPACT
Under the compact, Colorado was allocated 51.75% or roughly 3.9mm acre-feet. Colorado currently uses 2.367mm acre-feet annually, significantly less than its full allocation.
The cornerstone of the "Law of the River", this Compact was negotiated by the seven Colorado River Basin states and the federal government in 1922. It defined the relationship between the upper basin states, where most of the river's water supply originates, and the lower basin states, where most of the water demands were developing. At the time, the upper basin states were concerned that plans for Hoover Dam and other water development projects in the lower basin would, under the Western water law doctrine of prior appropriation, deprive them of their ability to use the river's flows in the future.
The states could not agree on how the waters of the Colorado River Basin should be allocated among them, so the Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover suggested the basin be divided into an upper and lower half, with each basin having the right to develop and use 7.5 million acre-feet (maf) of river water annually. This approach reserved water for future upper basin development and allowed planning and development in the lower basin to proceed.
COLORADO RIVER STORAGE PROJECT
The primary authorization for the Flaming Gorge Reservoir was to develop water for the Upper Basin states, including Colorado.
In 1956, Congress took a huge step toward helping the Upper Basin states develop their Compact entitlements. The Colorado River Storage Project Act (“CRSPA”), 43 USC § 620, provides for the construction of four large reservoirs, including Flaming Gorge in the Upper Basin:
In order to initiate the comprehensive development of the water resources of the Upper Colorado River Basin, for the purposes, among others, of regulating the flow of the Colorado River, storing water for beneficial consumptive use, making it possible for the States of the Upper Basin to utilize, consistently with the provisions of the Colorado River Compact, the apportionments made to and among them in the Colorado River Compact and the Upper Colorado River Basin Compact, respectively, … the Secretary of the Interior is authorized (1) to construct, operate, and maintain the following initial units of the Colorado River storage project, consisting of dams, reservoirs, power plants, transmission facilities and appurtenant works: Wayne N. Aspinall, Flaming Gorge, Navajo (dam and reservoir only), and Glen Canyon ….
CRSPA directs the Secretary of the Interior to operate these facilities in accordance with reclamation law. 43 USC § 620 c.
RECORD OF DECISION - OPERATION OF FLAMING GORGE RESERVOIR
The EIS describes the potential effects of modifying the operation of Flaming Gorge Dam to assist in the recovery of four endangered fish, and their critical habitat, downstream from the dam.
USBR LETTER TO UPPER COLORADO RIVER COMMISSION
The United States Bureau of Reclamation identified 165,000 acre-feet of water available in the Flaming Gorge/Green River system by utilizing the recent Record of Decision and subtracting all potential consumptive uses to identify available surpluses in the system.
STATEWIDE WATER SUPPLY INITIATIVE
The State of Colorado has identified that population growth will drive a significant need for additional water to meet future municipal and industrial (M&I) demands. Through the Statewide Water Supply Initiative (SWSI), which provided a comprehensive identification of Colorado’s current and future water needs, the CWCB initially projected water demands to the year 2030 and estimated that Colorado would need an additional 630,000 acre feet (AF) of water for M&I use by 2030 to meet needs with passive conservation included.
COLORADO'S WATER PLAN
This plan is a roadmap that leads to a productive economy, vibrant and sustainable cities, productive agriculture, a strong environment, and a robust recreation industry. It sets forth the measurable objectives, goals, and actions by which Colorado will address its projected future water needs and measure its progress—all built on our shared values. Just as it was created, this plan will be implemented by working collaboratively with the basin roundtables, local governments, water providers, other stakeholders, and the general public. It includes a set of policies and actions that all Coloradans and their elected officials can support and help implement.
UPPER COLORADO RIVER COMPACT
The Project’s diversion of water in Utah for beneficial use in Colorado is authorized and protected by the Upper Colorado River Basin Compact of 1948 provided that the water is available within Colorado’s Compact apportionment.
The major purposes of this Compact are to provide for the equitable division and apportionment of the use of the waters of the Colorado River System, the use of which was apportioned in perpetuity to the Upper Basin by the Colorado River Compact; to establish the obligations of each State of the Upper Division with respect to the deliveries of water required to be made at Lee Ferry by the Colorado River Compact; to promote interstate comity; to remove causes of present and future controversies; to secure the expeditious agricultural and industrial development of the Upper Basin, the storage of water and to protect life and property from floods.
The Compact recognizes that the best way to develop the remaining supplies in the Upper Basin may be by diverting water from one state into another, charging the water to the Compact apportionment of the state in which the water will be used.
Article IX provides expressly for this:
[S]ubject to the conditions hereinafter contained, no state shall deny the right of another signatory state, any person, or entity of any signatory state to acquire rights to the use of water, or to construct or participate in the construction and use of diversion works and storage reservoirs with appurtenant works, canals and conduits in one state … for the purpose of diverting, conveying, storing or regulating water in an upper signatory state for consumptive use in a lower signatory state, when such use is within the apportionment to such lower state made by this compact.