Utah State University researchers explore Colorado River issues

Tree rings were one of several factors studied by Utah researchers
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December 7, 2023 — In the face of a historic drought and overuse of resources, the Colorado River is experiencing significant flow depletion. The river is a critical water source for Utah and six other states in the Colorado River Basin, prompting intensive research and action plans.

At the Utah Water Research Laboratory (UWRL)Opens in a new tab., Director David Tarboton and his student Homa Salehabadi have conducted an in-depth study, analyzing severe drought scenarios in the Colorado River basin. Their research, published in the Journal of American Water Resources AssociationOpens in a new tab., incorporates updated data including historical water flows, tree-ring analyses, and the impact of climate change. The findings suggest an increased likelihood of more intense droughts in the future.

Complementing this research, Associate Professor David Rosenberg has been deeply involved in studying the Colorado River. He focuses on adapting water usage to match the available resources, particularly in the context of both the Upper and Lower Basin depletions. Rosenberg’s research extends to exploring methods for conserving water in agricultural and everyday use, especially as these uses relate to water drawn from the Colorado River.

Both Tarboton and Rosenberg emphasize the urgent need for revised management and operational strategies for the Colorado River. This includes innovative approaches to conserve water, collaborative efforts with stakeholders and experts, and adapting to the challenges posed by declining river flows and reservoir storage levels. Their work highlights the importance of sustainable and equitable river management to address the pressing concerns of drought and water scarcity.

More Information:  Utah State UniversityOpens in a new tab.


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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