Event Title

The Colorado River: Supply and Demand

Presenter Information

David Merritt

Location

USU Eccles Conference Center

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Abstract

The Colorado River, the master drainage of the arid west, provides water to 40 million people and its waters are used to irrigate nearly six million acres of land. The changes to the Colorado River since the European missionaries, trappers and settlers first arrived, include some of the earliest transbasin diversions in the West, storage capacity that surpasses average annual flow in the basin, mainstem dams that are some of the most massive human made structures on Earth, and intensified conflict between ecological processes and growing demand for fresh water for growing southwestern cites.

Over the past decades, recognition of the ecological costs of human water development have led to major efforts to restore sites and segments within the basin. I will summarize a few of these efforts from the headwaters of the Colorado to the delta in Mexico, sharing common themes and challenges. I will also present a framework for using information from sites across the basin to inform and monitor restoration work and to forecast outcomes of alternative flow management scenarios and riparian response to projected climate change scenarios.

Comments

David Merritt is a riparian plant ecologist with the National Watershed, Fish and Wildlife Program of the US Forest Service and adjunct faculty at Colorado State University. The main focus of his current work is to understand the role of river flow regime in structuring riparian plant communities, maintaining diversity, and supporting the beneficial functions of riparian ecosystems. David has focused on developing regionally consistent and robust approaches to quantifying and evaluating trade-offs and risks in water extraction and flow management for ecological services. In his current position, David serves as a liaison between research and the National Forest managers on water-resource related issues -- primarily environmental flows.

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Oct 21st, 8:40 AM Oct 21st, 9:20 AM

The Colorado River: Supply and Demand

USU Eccles Conference Center

The Colorado River, the master drainage of the arid west, provides water to 40 million people and its waters are used to irrigate nearly six million acres of land. The changes to the Colorado River since the European missionaries, trappers and settlers first arrived, include some of the earliest transbasin diversions in the West, storage capacity that surpasses average annual flow in the basin, mainstem dams that are some of the most massive human made structures on Earth, and intensified conflict between ecological processes and growing demand for fresh water for growing southwestern cites.

Over the past decades, recognition of the ecological costs of human water development have led to major efforts to restore sites and segments within the basin. I will summarize a few of these efforts from the headwaters of the Colorado to the delta in Mexico, sharing common themes and challenges. I will also present a framework for using information from sites across the basin to inform and monitor restoration work and to forecast outcomes of alternative flow management scenarios and riparian response to projected climate change scenarios.