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Colorado River Futures Program
Competition for scarce Colorado River water resources is nothing new, but the conflicts that prompted the seven basin states to negotiate the 1922 Colorado River Compact have grown considerably fiercer and more complex in recent decades.
With cities, farms, and industry across seven states and two countries competing over river flows that are dwindling due to climate change, the Colorado River Basin faces some serious long-term problems. Fixing them will require a basin-wide vision with broad public support. But many of the stakeholders essential to building that vision and support – tribes, conservation groups, small-scale farmers, the recreation industry, scientists, economists, fishermen -- have a limited voice in the current decision making processes that determine who gets how much water when. Moreover, concern is growing even those with a seat at the table today that durable, basin-wide solutions are illusive.
Carpe Diem West is playing a unique role in the Colorado Basin bringing together key interests around the notion that long-term solutions will need to do 2 things: (1) address the new climate reality; and (2) be Basinwide.
With its strong network of leaders in the Basin and unique convening power, combined with its partnerships with key experts and academics at the University of Colorado, University of Utah and University of Montana, Carpe Diem West is preparing a vision for the Colorado River’s future that is durable, equitable and workable for all interests.
In the first phase of Carpe Diem's Colorado River Futures program, we produced Thinking Like a River Basin: Leaders’ Perspectives on Options and Opportunities in Colorado River Management, (April 14, 2011). The Leaders’ Perspectives report was prepared by CDW in conjunction with the Center for Natural Resources and Environmental Policy at the University of Montana, and is based on interviews with 35 influential stakeholders and political leaders in the Colorado River Basin. These interviews focused on each participant’s views of the challenges facing the Colorado Basin in the next 15 years, and what potential changes to existing rules and institutions might be helpful in meeting those challenges. While the interviewees’ responses produced nothing resembling a consensus, the report does identify some intriguing trends that bode well for the prospect of creating long-term, sustainable solutions for the Colorado and its tributaries.
Building on that progress, produced a second report, Governing Like a River Basin (Dec. 2011), that explored different models for addressing issues in complex aquatic ecosystems with myriad competing consumptive demands.
Together these two reports have sparked a critically important dialogue in the Basin about different approaches forward. With the release of the Bureau’s Basin Study in the coming months, Carpe Diem West is poised to facilitate the critical conversation about the next steps forward.
"Because of Carpe Diem West, and it's positive, broad reaching safe table, new perspectives are being brought to the forefront under a cover for those at the table looking for ideas but perhaps uncomfortable at putting them out there.”
Eric Kuhn General Manager, Colorado River Water Conservation District
Rethinking the Future of the Colorado River (Draft Interim Report of the Colorado River Governance Initiative, December 2010)
Latest webinar recording posted!
Effective Messaging: Communicating Nature's Benefits
Carpe Diem West releases report New Visions, Smart Choices - Western Water Security in a Changing Climate
Healthy Headwaters Alliance rolls out inaugural Policy Platform
Latest Academy webinar recording archived- Watershed Valuation: A Closer Look
Healthy Headwaters 6th Leadership Convening in Portland a resounding success
Academy Webinar Series: November 14
Robust Decision Making
Academy Webinar Series: September 20th
Vulnerability Assessment - Take Two
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We've moved! Please update your records with our new address
Carpe Diem West's new Director of Programs starts July 9th!
Meet Cynthia Koehler
Academy Webinar Series: June 21st
Watershed Valuation - From Australia to the American West
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Healthy Headwaters Alliance rolled out April 2012, releases charter Policy Platform
Carpe Diem West Academy launches its newsletter!
Academy Webinar Series: March 21st
Getting Through the Bottleneck: Assessing Vulnerability
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Leadership Convening Summary: Healthy Headwaters
Carpe Diem West’s fourth Healthy Headwaters convening, an invited leadership group from water utilities, conservation NGOs, government, and the scientific community addressed emerging issues arising in their work to create resilient watersheds and water security in the American West in a time of climate change – in Oakland on October 28, 2011. Read More
NEW Report: Governing Like A River Basin: Options for Expanded Stakeholder Engagement in the Colorado River Basin examines examples of successful stakeholder engagement processes and how they may be used in conjunction with the Bureau of Reclamation’s Basin Study to build long-term solutions for the Colorado River. Read More
NEW Report: Read Carpe Diem West's report, Watershed Investment Programs in the American West. An Updated Look: Linking Upstream Watershed Health & Downstream Security, which provides information on what communities are doing to protect their headwaters. Read the report
Charting the Rapids Ahead
In partnership with the Center for Public Health & Climate Change, Carpe Diem West conducted an overview analysis to assess the intersection of western water, climate change and public health.
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Webinar on the U.S. Forest Service's Watershed Condition Framework (WCF)
Hosted by Carpe Diem West –
U.S. Forest Service's Anne Zimmermann, Director of Watersheds, Fish, Wildlife, Air & Rare Plants talks about the WCF and how is it guiding on-the-ground restoration.
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Carpe Diem West Academy Website Phase II
Thanks to the generous funding of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, we're off and running on Phase II of the Carpe Diem West Academy. Launching in December 2011, Phase II will be even more dynamic, offering webinars, discussion forums, feedback mechanisms, user profiles, and new tools and best practices. Read More
Healthy Headwaters Meeting Summary
Carpe Diem West's Healthy Headwaters Working Group held its third face-to-face meeting - along with an invited group of western water leaders – in Denver on March 25, 2011. Read More
'Thinking Like a River Basin' Report
Carpe Diem West's report, Thinking Like a River Basin: Leaders' Perspectives on Options and Opportunities in Colorado River Management, paints a portrait of a river basin – and a leadership community – at a crossroads. Read More
Denver Post Colorado River Op-Ed
On February 25, the Denver Post ran an insightful op-ed by Carpe Diem West leader Doug Kenney of the Colorado River Governance Initiative at the University of Colorado in Boulder, about the long-term future of dwindling Colorado River supplies in the face of climate change – and what people are doing about it.
New CRS Report on Energy's Water Demands
In January 2011, lead author Nicole Carter and her colleagues at the Congressional Research Service submitted their new report, Energy's Water Demand: Trends, Vulnerabilities, and Management, to Congress. It provides an excellent overview analysis of the water footprint of energy in the United States. Read More