Colorado River Basin Survey of Agricultural Water Users

In the Colorado River Basin, declining water supply over the last century has increased pressure on water users and created significant challenges for meeting multiple competing demands. As the largest water user, the agricultural sector is central to both the impacts of and solutions to water shortages. We surveyed 1,020 agricultural water users throughout six states in the Colorado River Basin to understand their perspectives on the present crisis, their current water conservation practices, and their preferences for strategies to address water shortages going forward.

The Report

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The Dashboard


First and foremost, we are grateful to the many agricultural water users across the Basin for their participation in this study. Whether it was taking time to fill out a survey, speak with us for an interview, or participate in the focus group, we recognize producers’ many time constraints and appreciate them making space in their busy schedules to share their views. We thank Regrid’s “Data with Purpose” program for their support in providing county land parcel data for the Basin that was essential in developing the sample. We thank Michael Dorssom, Brian Harnisch, and the WYSAC team for their support in administering the survey. The Walton Family Foundation provided financial support for the project through a grant to the Western Landowners Alliance. 

Suggested citation: Bennett, D., Lewis, M., Mahowald, H., Collins, M., Brammer, T., Byerly Flint, H., Thorsness, L., Eaton, W., Hansen, K., Burbach, M., and Koebele, E. 2023. Agricultural water users’ preferences for addressing water shortages in the Colorado River Basin. University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY: Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resource.   

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Ruckelshaus Institute

The Ruckelshaus Institute, a division of the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming, advances the understanding and resolution of complex environmental and natural resources challenges in the Mountain West.
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Western Landowners Alliance

The Western Landowners Alliance advances policies and practices that sustain working lands, connected landscapes, and native species.