Background readings: Western water

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

On this page:

U.S. Drought Monitor

Every Thursday, the U.S. Drought Monitor releases a map showing the areas of the country that are currently in various stages of drought. The product is jointly produced by the National Drought Mitigation Center, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This site also provides GIS data, historical drought information and useful visualizations to compare maps over time.

(See our drought dashboard for one use of this data.)

U.S. Geological Survey: Water Use in the United States

In 2015, water use in the United States was around 322 billion gallons per day. This report provides data and details on how all of that water was used and trends since 1950.

U.S. Geological Survey: Water Science School

The USGS offers helpful primers on water science, the hydrologic cycle, water quality and how water is used. The site includes maps, data, multimedia and other resources.

Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center

This water program of the California-focused think tank offers a number of helpful fact sheets and other publications on water issues in California.

Water Education Colorado

Water Education Colorado provides nine citizen’s guides on water topics, including the law, conservation, quality and supply. This site is also the home of Fresh Water News and Headwaters Magazine.

To learn more about Colorado water issues, check out these resources from Fresh Water News:

Water Education Foundation

The Water Education Foundation offers a water encyclopediaphotosvideos, historical timelines and a tool for Californians to determine the source of their water. This site is also home to Western Water.

Academic organizations

There are a number of university-based programs and projects that focus on water issues and the Colorado River Basin:

Do you know of other resources on the web that would be helpful for water journalists and others? Please contact us so we can consider including them on this page.