Upper basin states prepare for Colorado River fights

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January 17, 2023 – Even with a great snowpack so far this year in the Colorado River basin states, concerns remain about the continued availability of water in Lake Powell and Lake MeadOpens in a new tab..

At the start of the legislative season, some upper basin states are gearing up to fight for their share of Colorado River water.¬† In Wyoming, for instance, legislation has been sponsored that would create a board and commissioner to manage the state’s water in the Colorado River Basin.¬† Members of the board and commission would have a stake in what happens with Colorado River water. Having won a second term, Colorado’s attorney general is anticipating litigation against the lower basin states that may be taking more than their entitlement to the river.

In its January 9 report, Drought.govOpens in a new tab. identified the following key points that lend some optimism to parts of the region:

  • A continuous barrage of atmospheric rivers have made landfall in central and northern California, spreading copious amounts of mountain snowfall in the Sierra Nevada, Great Basin, and parts of the Upper Colorado River Basin.
  • Snow water equivalent (SWE) is currently at 200% to over 300% of normal for much of this region, with record high SWE for this time of year at a number of SNOTEL sites in the Sierra Nevada.
  • There are still small areas of snow drought in isolated regions, including the Sangre De Cristo Mountains, straddling the New Mexico-Colorado border.
  • The northern Rockies is another region to keep an eye on, with many locations at near-to-slightly below normal SWE in northern Idaho, western Montana, and northern Wyoming.


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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