Digital Technology Opportunities for the Colorado River Basin

Environmental Law Institute & Water Foundry
Date Released
November 2019
Digital Technology Opportunities for the Colorado River Basin

The American West, including the cities of Las Vegas, Nevada; Los Angeles, California; Phoenix, Arizona; and Denver, Colorado, falling under the reaches of the greater Colorado River Basin (CRB), is now among the world's water stressed regions facing the environmental, economic, and social challenges of increased water scarcity. The CRB supplies more than 1 in 10 Americans with some, if not all, of their water for municipal use, including drinking water. In addition, the economic importance of the CRB cannot be overstated: the Colorado River supports $1.4 trillion in annual economic activity and 16 million jobs in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming which is equivalent to about 1/12 of the total gross domestic product in the U.S. It has become clear, however, that under current and projected conditions, the Colorado River is no longer able to meet the demands of its many users. For this reason, the CRB is seen as a strategic “testbed” to determine the feasibility of emerging and novel digital technological solutions for the water sector. This report is intended to profile the potential opportunities of emerging digital technologies to address the water quality and quantity challenges faced by public and private entities in the Basin.