Management of the Colorado River: Water Allocations, Drought, and the Federal Role [Updated August 10, 2022] [open pdf - 2MB]
From the Introduction: "From its headwaters in Colorado and Wyoming to its terminus in the Gulf of California, the Colorado River Basin covers more than 246,000 square miles. The river runs through seven U.S. states (Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California) and Mexico. Pursuant to federal law, the Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation, part of the Department of the Interior [DOI]) plays a prominent role in the management of the basin's waters. In the Lower Basin (i.e., Arizona, Nevada, and California), Reclamation also serves as 'water master' on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior, a role that elevates the status of the federal government in basin water management. The federal role in the management of Colorado River water is magnified by the multiple federally owned and operated water storage and conveyance facilities in the basin, which provide low-cost water and hydropower supplies to water users. [...] Congress and the federal government play a prominent role in the management of the Colorado River. Specifically, Congress funds and oversees Reclamation's management of Colorado River Basin facilities, including facility operations and programs to protect and restore endangered species. Congress has also approved and continues to actively consider Indian water rights settlements involving Colorado River waters, and development of new and expanded water storage in the basin. In addition, Congress has approved funding to mitigate drought and stretch basin water supplies and has considered new authorities for Reclamation to combat drought and enter into agreements with states and Colorado River contractors. This report provides background on management of the Colorado River, with a focus on recent developments. It also discusses the congressional role in the management of basin waters."
CRS Report for Congress, R45546
Congressional Research Service: https://crsreports.congress.gov/