In a study revisiting and updating the general assumptions, themes and findings of the SSD study, we find that three changes to the system over the last decade have change the system's vulnerability to climate: (1) the sociopolitical, legal and demographic context of the region has evolved rapidly, especially in the Lower Basin; (2) new water projects and management regimes have been implemented; and (3) there is currently a much more advanced understanding of the climate system-past, present, and future-including the potential impacts of climate change and shorter drought periods on water management that were not included in the original investigation. The overarching issue to be addressed in the proposed work is to understand how the changing context of the region has introduced criticality for water management with respect to shortages due to increasing demand and shortages related to climate variability and change.
In addition to implementation of current policies, the drought suggests that planning and policy development in the basin must consider potential future climate scenarios, including multi-year droughts and the effects of increased temperatures. Two examples are the developing “shortage sharing agreement,” and the Environmental Impact Statement for the Aspinall Unit on the Gunnison River. This presentation will discuss the 2006-2007 policy landscape with respect to the Colorado River. We will also discuss needs for climate products that can aid the increasingly difficult and urgent water resource decision-making processes in the Colorado basin.