Jack Schmidt: The Future of the Colorado River
September 28 @ 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm
Today’s decisions about the Colorado River’s future are of two types – those that concern allocation of a decreasing water supply that meets the needs of a growing population and those that concern environmental management of the river segments that intervene between reservoirs. Can these two types of decisions be jointly addressed? Geophysical science, including climate science, plays a large role in addressing water supply issues, and the geophysical and biological sciences are important foundations to programs that address endangered species and landscape rehabilitation issues, including those addressed by several adaptive management programs. Although the linkage between geophysical science and water supply decision-making is straightforward, the application of the natural sciences to adaptive management of rivers is challenged by the competing values of the many stakeholders who participate in these programs. Moving forward, scientists and river citizens have the opportunity to provide alternative strategies that prioritize where in the watershed lie the greatest opportunities in ecosystem rehabilitation, because the geography of runoff generation and water use creates rehabilitation opportunities in some parts of the watershed and severely limits opportunities elsewhere. Tradeoffs between water supply objectives and environmental objectives can only be explored if river citizens clearly articulate their objectives and goals.
Jack Schmidt is the Janet Quinney Lawson Chair in Colorado River Studies and the Director of the Center for Colorado River Studies in the Quinney College of Natural Resources at Utah State University. For more than 30 years, he and his graduate students have studied the geomorphic processes and conditions of the Colorado River, especially in Grand Canyon and in national parts of the Green River. Jack served as Chief of the USGS/Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center between 2011 and 2014.
Program sponsored by Utah State University’s Center for Colorado River Studies.