Colorado River Policy Proposal includes John Fleck's Work

May 13, 2024 - John Fleck

A policy proposal for better managing environmental flows on the Colorado River by a team including the Utton Center's John Fleck has drawn attention to the need to expand river management policies beyond water supply management alone.

The Lake Powell/Grand Canyon/Lake Mead Ecosystem Proposal calls for adapting water releases from Glen Canyon Dam through the Grand Canyon to meet broad recreational, cultural, and environmental goals, rather than managing them solely to meet water supply deliveries to downstream users. It was developed with Fleck's longtime collaborators Jack Schmidt of Utah State University and Eric Kuhn, Colorado River scholar and former director of the Colorado River Water Conservation District. The Schmidt-Kuhn-Fleck effort is one of a handful or major proposals being considered by the U.S. Department of Interior and the Bureau of Reclamation as they develop new operating guidelines for managing the Colorado River, which provides important water supplies to New Mexico and six other U.S. states, as well as two states in Mexico.

The work is part of Utton's broader effort, led by Fleck and Utton Staff Attorney and Water Governance and Policy Analyst Rin Tara, to inform Colorado River basin governance. The work includes an analysis of the history and current policies surrounding New Mexico's Colorado River water, as well as a forthcoming analysis by Kuhn, Tara, and Fleck on the history of Upper Colorado River Compact and the implications of that history for current river management.