Navigating the Rapids: Colorado River Governance in the 21st Century

This public-facing event will be part of a larger, two-day workshop hosted by UC Director Andrea Gerlak.

A photo of Horseshoe Bend near Glen Canyon Dam in Arizona. Event details appear in blue and red text over a transparent white box in the center of the image.


4 to 6 p.m., Feb. 15, 2024

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More than 40 million people rely on the Colorado River. Its water is shared by seven US states and Mexico as a vital source of water for cities, agriculture, recreation, and the environment. However, it is under severe strain due to over-allocation, drought, and climate change. Alarmingly low reservoir levels have raised concerns about the river’s ability to sustain the people that depend on it. How did we get where we are today? What can we do to protect the river and ensure that it will continue to flow?

Join UC Director Andrea Gerlak and 12 other water policy experts from across the Colorado River Basin for a public symposium addressing governance of the Colorado River. Over the course of two moderated roundtable discussions, panelists will offer diverse perspectives on the river’s stakeholders, decision-making processes, and its most complex challenges. The discussions will offer insights on the future of the Colorado River and its viability to support agriculture, ecosystems, and human life.

The event will include two brief talks and two roundtable sessions.

  • Colorado River 101: A Look at the Landscape with Gina Gilson, Environmental Policy Program Research Scientist at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy
  • Roundtable 1: Digging into the Diverse Interests
    • Facilitator: Gemma Smith, Assistant Professor in the UArizona School of Government and Public Policy
      • Tamee Albrecht, Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability at Colorado State University
      • Drew Bennett, Whitney MacMillan Professor of Practice in the Private Lands Stewardship Program at the University of Wyoming 
      • Tanya Heikkila, Co-Director of the Center for Policy and Democracy at the University of Colorado-Denver
      • Heather Tanana, Visiting Professor of Law at the University of California, Irvine
  • Colorado River 101: Modern decision-making in the basin with Douglas Kenney, Director of the Western Water Policy Program at the University of Colorado School of Law
  • Roundtable 2: Naming the Elephants in the Room
    • Facilitator: Sharon Megdal, Director of the UArizona Water Resources Research Center
      • Dustin Garrick, University Research Chair in Water and Development Policy at the University of Waterloo
      • Elizabeth Koebele, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Nevada, Reno
      • Rhett Larson, Richard Morrison Professor of Water Law at Arizona State University

Audience members may engage with the panelists during Q & A sessions following each of the two roundtable discussions.

Please join us for a networking reception in the ENR2 courtyard immediately following the symposium, where refreshments and light appetizers will be served.

You won't want to miss what may be the most comprehensive discussion of the year examining Colorado River governance and policy!

Save your seat today! 

RSVP to attend