An initiative of the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder

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Troubled Waters

About The Water Desk

The Water Desk is an independent, nonprofit journalism initiative with three priorities:

  • Support for journalists: Funding and other resources for journalists and media outlets covering water issues, with a focus on the Colorado River Basin and Western North America
  • News and original content: Coverage of water issues and multimedia content produced by The Water Desk and members of its collaborative network
  • Education and engagement: Working with CU Boulder students and others beyond the campus to inform the public and policymakers

Stories and reports

Restoration, infrastructure and the economic value of rivers – Water Buffs Podcast ep. 4...

We discuss a recent American Rivers report that examines the economic value of rivers and our nation’s crumbling water infrastructure. The report calls on Congress to invest $500 billion over 10 years in water infrastructure and river restoration.
Yampa River at Hayden

Water released from Elkhead Reservoir lifts call on Yampa River

The second-ever call on the Yampa River was lifted after water providers announced an Elkhead Reservoir water release to support irrigators and endangered fish.
Liza Mitchell, a natural resource planner and ecologist with Pitkin County, shows off the recent work on a restoration project at a fen on North Star Nature Preserve, on Aug. 26. This fiber mat is plugging an old ditch that drained water from the wetland to the Roaring Fork River.

Pitkin County launches project to restore ancient wetland at North Star Preserve near Aspen

A fen-restoration project aims to enhance the wetland’s ability to provide habitat, store and filter groundwater, and sequester carbon.

Water Desk news and grant announcements

Deadline approaching: apply for water journalism grants

The Water Desk is now accepting applications for grants to support coverage of Western water issues and the Colorado River Basin.  

Announcing grantees for The Water Desk’s California Media Project

The Water Desk has made $75,000 in grants to journalists and media outlets covering California water issues.

Special Series: Crisis on the Colorado

The Water Desk is pleased to republish this outstanding five-part series by Jim Robbins and Ted Wood for Yale Environment 360.

Crisis on the Colorado Part I: The West’s Great River Hits Its Limits– Will...

As the Southwest faces rapid growth and unrelenting drought, the Colorado River is in crisis, with too many demands on its diminishing flow. Now those who depend on the river must confront the hard reality that their supply of Colorado water may be cut off.
After two decades of drought, Lake Mead, which is impounded by Hoover Dam, is just 40 percent full. A “bathtub ring” visible along the edges of the lake show how far its water levels have dropped. PHOTO BY TED WOOD. SUPPORT FOR AERIAL PHOTOGRAPHS PROVIDED BY LIGHTHAWK

Crisis on the Colorado Part II: On a Water-Starved River, Drought Is the New...

With the Southwest locked in a 19-year drought and climate change making the region increasingly drier, water managers and users along the Colorado River are facing a troubling question: Are we in a new, more arid era when there will never be enough water?
A canal diverts water from the Colorado River to farms in Palisade, Colorado. TED WOOD

Crisis on the Colorado Part III: Running Dry– New Strategies for Conserving Water

Communities along the Colorado River are facing a new era of drought and water shortages that is threatening their future. With an official water emergency declaration now possible, farmers, ranchers, and towns are searching for ways to use less water and survive.

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Latest multimedia content

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Resources

We’ve collected a series of resources that help explain the complex and sometimes contentious world of water issues.

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Background readings on Western water

Here are some helpful online resources for learning more about the Colorado River Basin and Western water issues.

Glossaries

It’s hard to understand water issues unless you know the lingo. Here are some helpful water-related glossaries on the web:

Water books

Want to go deep and really learn about water issues? Here's a list of great nonfiction books...

Media and journalism

On this page you'll find a guide to water media, a Twitter list for Western water and examples of great water journalism.