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Keywords:

  • Colorado River;
  • drought;
  • vulnerability

Abstract:

On the Colorado River (as elsewhere), severe drought is useful for illuminating sources of water supply vulnerability, focusing attention on deficiencies in water allocation and management. A major drought study in the early 1990s, and experience with real drought a decade later, both have been useful in understanding vulnerability as a function of several factors working in consort with drought, including water allocation, reservoir operations, water demands, and climate change. Over this relatively short time-frame, vulnerability has shifted considerably, and will undoubtedly continue to change further in coming decades. Understanding how vulnerability is shifting is central to identifying future management pathways and reform options for the river.