Can a 90-Year-Old Set of Colorado River Laws Work in the 21st Century?

For Immediate Release Colorado College: Can a 90-Year-Old Set of Colorado River Laws Work in the 21st Century?  Colorado Supreme Court Justice and Colorado River Legal Scholar to Discuss Implications of the Law of the River: COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Sept. 26, 2011 – The future of the Colorado River Basin faces mounting challenges, including climate change and an exploding population growth in the West.  Although roughly 27 million people rely on the river for water, energy and healthy ecosystems, some expert studies predict that by 2050 the river system will not be able to consistently meet the needs of those dependent upon it.

Can a nearly 90-year-old set of laws weather the turbulence of the 21st century?

Come hear Colorado Supreme Court Justice Greg Hobbs and Colorado River legal scholar Larry MacDonnell, of the University of Wyoming’s College of Law, discuss the implications of the river’s legal foundation for the next generation at 7 p.m., Monday, Oct. 17 in the Richard F. Celeste Theatre in the Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave., on the Colorado College campus.

The Colorado River Basin is ruled by a compilation of decrees, rights, court decisions and laws that together are referred to as the “Law of the River.” The keystone of these “commandments” is the 1922 Colorado River Compact, an interstate agreement created by the seven basin states with provisions for general water allotments. As municipalities, agriculture and environmental interests jockey for continued water supplies in the face of projected diminished flows, will the Law of the River be able to bend under new stresses or will it break?

This free talk is part the Colorado College State of the Rockies 2011-12 Project Speakers Series, where leading experts and well-known river advocates examine the Colorado River Basin and the complex water use, environmental and economic challenges facing future generations.

Monthly programs are scheduled through January 2012, leading up to a public conference April 8-10 where students will present the 2012 State of the Rockies Report, which examines current water, agricultural and recreational issues in the Basin and highlights how economic, demographic and climate changes will impact what the Colorado River looks like to future generations. Sessions with national experts will also explore the future of the Basin.

WHAT:                 “The Law of the Colorado River Basin: Rigid Relic or Flexible Foundation for the Future?” presented by Gregory Hobbs Jr., Colorado Supreme Court, and Larry MacDonnell, University of Wyoming College of Law

WHEN: 7-9 p.m., Oct. 17, 2011

WHERE: Richard F. Celeste Theatre, Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave., on the Colorado College campus (corner of Cache La Poudre Street and Cascade Avenue)

NEXT UP: Monday, Nov. 7 – “The Colorado River Basin: Environmental Perspectives and Action” presented by Bart Miller, Water Program Director for Western Resource Advocates; Jennifer Pitt, Director of the Colorado River Project for the Environmental Defense Fund; and Tom Chart, USFWS, Director of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program

MORE INFO: All talks are free of charge and open to the public. For more information, or to learn how to connect with various podcasts and videos from program, visit the State of the Rockies Project website at The State of the Rockies Project is an annual research study conducted collaboratively by undergraduate students and faculty to increase public understanding of the vital issues affecting the Rockies. This year’s topic is The Colorado River Basin: Use, Restoration and Sustainability for the Next Generation.

For information, directions or disability accommodation at the event, members of the public may call (719) 389-6607.

About Colorado College: Colorado College is a nationally prominent, four-year liberal arts college that was founded in Colorado Springs in 1874. The college operates on the innovative Block Plan, in which its approximately 2,000 undergraduate students study one course at a time in intensive 3½-week segments. The college also offers a master of arts in teaching degree. For more information, visit <>.

Contact:  Leslie Weddell (719) 389-6038

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