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

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

Water arriving by truck photo

Avoiding water bankruptcy in the drought-troubled Southwest: What the US and Iran can learn...

Past mistakes offer important lessons for future plans in the Southwest and other regions increasingly experiencing drought and water shortages.
Yampa River photo

Steamboat looks to new program to address high river temperatures

Steamboat Springs is trying to comply with state regulations and also cool down chronically high temperatures in an impaired stretch of the Yampa River.
Little Bear Ranch photo

Water planners pray for snow as 2022 forecast shows dry weather ahead

Colorado’s water forecast, already strained by back-to-back drought years, is unlikely to brighten this fall and winter.

Water Desk offers grants for coverage of Colorado River Basin

The Water Desk is now accepting applications for grants of up to $10,000 to support water journalism related to the Colorado River Basin.

Water Desk awards new grants to journalists and media outlets

The Water Desk is excited to announce the recipients of new grants to support water-related journalism in the seven states of the Colorado River Basin and the borderlands of...

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

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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Cases, agreements and treaties

The legal intricacies of Western water can be difficult to wade through. This timeline offers an introduction to some key cases, agreements and treaties....

Background readings on Western water

Here are some helpful online resources for learning more about the Colorado River Basin and Western water issues. On this page: 1922 Colorado River Compact1922...

Glossaries

It’s hard to understand water issues unless you know the lingo. Here are some helpful water-related glossaries on the web: The U.S. Geological Survey's Dictionary...

Water books

Want to go deep and really learn about water issues? Here's a list of great nonfiction books on (Western) water issues, curated by Mitch...

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. Water news sources One...