Tribal water rights could play a big role in the future of the Colorado River

By Ron Dungan
Published: Monday, January 10, 2022 - 5:07pm
Updated: Wednesday, January 12, 2022 - 9:24am
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Coverage of tribal natural resources is supported in part by Catena Foundation

Last month, a group of Colorado River users gathered in Las Vegas to discuss the future of water in the Southwest.

At the same time, another group was having a similar discussion. A group of conservationists called Save the Colorado met on Zoom to talk about Glen Canyon Dam, climate change and tribal rights to the Colorado River.

Tribal nations were once excluded from talks about how to divvy up the state’s water supply, but that has changed over the years.

Timothy Williams, chairman of the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, says that could play a big role when states gather to renegotiate rights to the river.

“So, hopefully, when the 2026 guidelines come out, you’ll see tribes, up there at the Hoover Dam if that’s the place to be, and you’ll be able to see the full magnitude, and a full and true representation of what the river truly is and who has rights to the river,” Williams said.

Reservoir levels on the Colorado reached historic lows last year, prompting the Bureau of Reclamation to declare a water shortage.