Water supply risk on the Colorado River: Can management mitigate?



[1] Population growth and a changing climate will tax the future reliability of the Colorado River water supply. Using a heuristic model, we assess the annual risk to the Colorado River water supply for 2008–2057. Projected demand growth superimposed upon historical climate variability results in only a small probability of annual reservoir depletion through 2057. In contrast, a scenario of 20% reduction in the annual Colorado River flow due to climate change by 2057 results in a near tenfold increase in the probability of annual reservoir depletion by 2057. However, our analysis suggests that flexibility in current management practices could mitigate some of the increased risk due to climate change–induced reductions in flows.