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

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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

Is renewable energy’s future dammed?

A proposed hydroelectric project on the Little Colorado River shows the tricky trade-offs in transitioning from fossil fuels.

Who should pay for water conservation in the West? Water managers wade into discussion

The head of the Colorado River District says any funding must be channeled through the Colorado Water Conservation Board to prevent speculation by private buyers.

State looking to oppose White River storage project in water court

For more than 4½ years, state engineers in Colorado have expressed concerns that a conservancy district has not proven there is a need for the water, which would be stored in the proposed White River reservoir and dam project.

Water Desk news and announcements

Column: defining our scope and water journalism

The Water Desk is a new independent journalism initiative. We're starting up at a pivotal moment for both the news industry and water sector.

Building a network for water journalism

The Water Desk is building a collaborative network of media outlets that cross-publish content related to Western water issues. Colorado River flows...

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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Multimedia and resources for journalists

Latest multimedia content

This content is free to use and repost by media organizations and others under a Creative Commons license.

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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.
The Water Desk’s mission is to increase the volume, depth and power of journalism connected to Western water issues. We're an initiative of the Center for Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder. The Water Desk launched in April 2019 with support from the Walton Family Foundation. We maintain a strict editorial firewall between our funders and our journalism. The Water Desk is seeking additional funding to build and sustain the initiative.