Colorado River

Falling water levels in reservoirs along the Colorado River have forced cuts to some water users in the state, but headlines saying Arizona farms are losing their water are a bit misleading. Arizona Edition’s Lou Gum speaks to Yuma attorney Wade Noble about Yuma's water rights. 


The threats to the Colorado River are many – climate change, overuse, invasive species, dozens of planned diversion projects, pollution – and that has motivated action up and down the river’s shores by a variety committed activists and regular people.

The water levels behind the Colorado River’s biggest dams are fast-approaching or already at record lows. The historic 21-year megadrought that is squeezing some Western states’ water supplies will also likely start showing up in energy bills, because those dams can’t produce as much electricity. 

Drier springs bring hotter summers in the withering Southwest

Jul 9, 2021
(Luke Runyon/KUNC)

A question has bothered climatologist Park Williams during the decade he’s been probing drought in the Southwest. Like other climate scientists, he knew from research papers and worldwide storm patterns that a warming atmosphere is thirstier and sops up more moisture from oceans and the land.

Arizona Edition, Host Lou Gum.

The Cocopah are known as the river people for their historic and cultural connection to what is today called the Colorado River.

The Colorado intersects the Cocopah Reservation today at a couple of points, but it is harder to get to the waters than it used to be just a couple of generations ago.

A Colorado River Showdown Is Looming. Let The Posturing Begin

Mar 23, 2021
(Luke Runyon, KUNC)


A showdown is looming on the Colorado River. The river’s existing management guidelines are set to expire in 2026. The states that draw water from it are about to undertake a new round of negotiations over the river’s future, while it’s facing worsening dry conditions due in part to rising temperatures.

A recent report from the Center for Colorado River Studies at Utah State University takes a deep dive into the history of water flow on the Colorado River to help water users assess the future of this high use, drought plagued resource. Professor Jack Schmidt is the Center's Director. Today we take a quantitative look at the future of a river that was once called the Nile of America. 

(Luke Runyon/KUNC)


Increasingly bleak forecasts for the Colorado River have for the first time put into action elements of the 2019 upper basin drought contingency plan. 


Luke Runyon

Water agencies throughout the West are changing their operations during the coronavirus outbreak to make sure cities and farms don’t run dry.


Nick Cote for KUNC/LightHawk

A new federal program hopes to fill in knowledge gaps on how water moves through the headwaters of arguably the West’s most important drinking and irrigation water source.

Luke Runyon/KUNC

Earlier this year, Arizona -- one of seven southwestern states that rely on the Colorado River -- was in the midst of a heated discussion about water.

Lou Gum / KAWC

The Cocopah Indian Tribe wants to revive a traditional tea recipe that uses the beans of the screw bean mesquite tree.  But finding the beans is more difficult now than it was just decades ago.  Turns out the tree that was part of Cocopah culture for millennia is dying off. 

Capitol Media Services photo by Howard Fischer

By Howard Fischer - Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- Gov. Doug Ducey signed a drought contingency plan Thursday afternoon, just six hours ahead of the deadline set by a key federal official for the state to act or face having their Colorado River water supply determined by her.

City of Yuma

The Yuma Bird, Nature, and History Festival is three days of activities that begin January 4th.  The event features guided tours of some of the most amazing locations in our region, highlights the one-of-a kind birds and creatures we share our home with, and explores the history of our community.

Victor Calderón/KAWC

LAS VEGAS- Leaders from the Cocopah and Colorado River Indian Tribes in Yuma and La Paz counties met last week with water leaders from the seven states along the Colorado River for an annual water conference here.

Gov. Says He'll Veto Unfair Drought Plan

Dec 12, 2018
Howard Fischer / Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX -- Gov. Doug Ducey threatened Tuesday to veto any drought contingency plan that does not equitably divide up the pain of Arizona having less water in 2020 and eventually leads to lower water use in the state.

The vow, the governor's strongest statement to date on the issue, comes as the key players in crafting a plan appear to be circling around an agreement of who loses water when the state is forced to reduce the amount it can draw from Lake Mead and the Colorado River.

June 29th was the last day on the job for Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area Executive Director Charles Flynn.  Flynn was honored this week during the annual meeting of Visit Yuma for his impact on the community.  KAWC's Kim Johnson was there and has details.....

In his 19 years on the job Flynn is credited with being the catalyst for Yuma's reconnection with the Colorado River.  He says when he arrived in Yuma it was a river city with no river access, but he says he knew people here wanted that to change.....

Maya Springhawk Robnett / KAWC Colorado River Public Media

A World War II veteran recently visited Yuma to see how his uncle’s memory is being honored—through an exhibit at the Yuma Territorial Prison.  KAWC’s Maya Springhawk Robnett reports.

Lifeblood of the Desert: Is Tech the Answer to Yuma Water Woes?

Apr 11, 2018
Maya Springhawk Robnett / KAWC Colorado River Public Media

In Yuma, Arizona, the Colorado River is not what it was.  For thousands of years, its raging water deposited rich soil in the delta, creating one of the most verdant agricultural areas in the world.  Today, the river flow is 1 percent of what it was a century ago, but agriculture continues to thrive even as the water needed to maintain it dwindles due to over-allocation and drought. 

International Water Conference Continues in Yuma

Jan 26, 2018
Maya Springhawk Robnett / KAWC Colorado River Public Media

An international waterfront conference is taking place in Yuma through the weekend.  For the Arizona Science Desk, Maya Springhawk Robnett reports…

International Waterfront Conference Comes to Yuma

Jan 25, 2018
Maya Springhawk Robnett / KAWC Colorado River Public Media

Starting today, Yuma will host an international waterfront conference. Yuma will be one of the smallest cities to host the conference, and it’s a big deal for the Yuma Crossing National Heritage Area.   For the Arizona Science Desk, Maya Springhawk Robnett explains…

Maya Springhawk Robnett / KAWC Colorado River Public Media

Over-use of the Colorado River has long concerned environmentalists, but a short film has set out to explore the human impacts of over-allocation.  KAWC’s Maya Springhawk Robnett attended a viewing in San Luis, Arizona…

ADEQ Releases Arizona Water Watch App For The Public

Nov 28, 2017

Arizona residents and visitors can now help protect Arizona’s waterbodies using their smart phones.

KAWC’s Stephanie Sanchez has the details.

La Paz County First Responders Practice Water Rescue Skills

Oct 12, 2017
Stephanie Sanchez

A vast network of canals stretch like veins off the Colorado River.  They provide water to communities hundreds of miles away and nourish the region’s vibrant agricultural industry.

But the often muddy and fast flowing canals can be a “death trap” for those who venture too close.

KAWC’s Stephanie Sanchez introduces us to the first responders responsible for dangerous canal rescues.

September Designated as Cocopah Month in Yuma County

Sep 11, 2017
Cocopah Indian Tribe

Cities in Yuma County proclaimed September as Cocopah Month in honor of the Cocopah Indian Tribe’s 100th anniversary of federal recognition.

KAWC’s Stephanie Sanchez reports.

Water Contamination Could Be Causing Thyroid Disease in Southwest AZ

May 18, 2017
Lipman Herne / Northern Arizona University

A human-made chemical used to fire rockets into space, power fireworks, and open airbags in car crashes could also be the cause of numerous cases of thyroid disease in Yuma, Arizona.  For the Arizona Science Desk, Maya Springhawk Robnett reports…

Karl M. Flessa / University of Arizona

In 2014, one-hundred-six-thousand acre-feet of water made its way from Morelos Dam near Yuma into the parched Colorado River Delta as part of a joint environmental effort between the U.S. and Mexico. Two years later, researchers say the results are positive. Maya Springhawk Robnett of the Arizona Science Desk reports…


A deal between a coalition of tribes and the Lower Colorado Region of the Bureau of Reclamation aims to address concerns over drought and water levels in the nation’s largest reservoir. The deal is also an economic boost for the tribes.

Colorado River Releases Greenhouse Gases

Aug 26, 2016
Karen Schlatter / Sonoran Institute

In 2014, the U.S. and Mexico agreed to release more than one-hundred-thousand acre-feet of Colorado River water from the Morelos Dam near Yuma, Arizona to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

It was part of a historic agreement called the Minute 319 Pulse Flow and it may have had some environmentally unfriendly side-effects.

It had been more than two decades since Colorado River water flowed into the Sea of Cortez. The intent of the release was to help restore a parched ecosystem damaged by drought and high demand.

Cocopah Tribe Museum Aims To Attract More Visitors

Apr 13, 2016
Cocopah Indian Tribe

Somerton-A Native American tribe in southwest Arizona is hoping to attract more visitors to its museum as a way to help share its history and culture.