Colorado River Compact: 1922 and 2010 Population

In 1922, the Colorado River Compact was signed to allocate the river’s water between the seven states and Mexico that rely on and share this water. At the time the Compact was signed, the Colorado River delivered an average of 16.5 million AF of water annually to 20 million people. As discussed in the previous article, that average is now down to 13 million AF for a population of approximately 170 million (2010). The following provides the Lower and Upper Basin states 1922 versus 2010 populations:

STATE            1922 POPULATION             2010 POPULATION INCREASE    % CHANGE

Lower Basin:  

Arizona           360,000                                   6,392,017                    6,032,017        17.76

California        2,991,000                                37,253,956                  34,262,956      12.46

Nevada            81,000                                     2,700,551                    2,619,551        33.34

Upper Basin:

Colorado         965,000                                   5,029,196                    4,064,196        5.21

New Mexico   375,000                                   2,059,179                    1,684,179        5.49

Utah                467,000                                   2,763,885                    2,296,885        5.92

Wyoming        220,000                                   563,626                       343,626           2.56

Mexico            14,566,000                              112,336,538                97,770,538      7.71

TOTAL           20,025,000                              169,098,948                149,073,948   

AVERAGE    2,503,125                                21,137,369                  18,634,244      11.31

As indicated above, the Colorado River is now delivering less water than was available in 1922 to 150 million more people! Demands in the Upper Division States do not reach or exceed apportionments by 2060. However, Lower Division demands already exceed apportionments. Shortages in the Lower Basin are primarily due to high demands and overuse. The Lower Basin States will have to redistribute between their consumptive uses and/or find additional and supplemental water resources.