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

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.
lake mead photo

Can a grand vision or incremental change solve the Colorado River's challenges?

With talks looming on a new operating agreement for the river, a debate has emerged over the best approach to address its challenges.

Northwest Colorado ranchers grapple with state requirements to measure, record water use

Irrigators in Northwest Colorado are facing a sea change in how they use their water, and many ranchers are greeting such a shift with reluctance and suspicion.

Anger and disappointment as Yampa River ranchers ordered to measure water

Hundreds of ranchers in the Yampa Valley have ignored a state request to begin measuring the water they use, putting them on a collision course with regulators if they don’t relent.
Homestake Creek Wetland Photo

Efforts to relocate an ancient wetland could help determine the fate of a water...

The cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs are looking to develop additional water in Eagle County and divert it to Colorado's Front Range.
colorado river risk study

Study: Colorado River water crisis could dry out Front Range, West Slope cities and...

If drought and climate change continue to sap the Colorado River, and a legal crisis erupts with downstream states, six of Colorado's eight major river basins could be forced to give up water.
Matilija Reservoir has filled with sediment, allowing grasses to grow on its surface. | Photo: Paul Jenkin (August 2019)

The dam nobody wants just won’t go away

Dams can stop the natural flow of sand and silt to the sea—resulting in coastal wetland loss and disappearing beaches—as well as preventing fish from reaching vital spawning grounds.

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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.