In Arizona, Collaboration Averts Water Disaster

Subject: Environment
Pages: 4
Words: 1230
Reading time:
5 min
Study level: College


This paper is a summary essay for Ted Cooke’s article about the problem of drought in the Colorado River basin and methods of overcoming it. The purpose of the article is to present a detailed description and analysis of the factors that caused the drought, as well as solutions to the problem, such as planning, introducing innovations, and establishing and maintaining collaborations. The system of the Colorado River is presented and analyzed, and the risks that arise in relation to the decrease in water are discussed. The article aims to identify the causes of the drought and how they influence the depletion of the reservoirs. The measures taken by the federal government are also presented in summary. The forecasts on the accessibility of water from the Colorado River are also provided in the article to emphasize the importance of the problem. Finally, Cooke states that water management professionals should place a focus on developing long-term solutions to address the issue.

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In the article “In Arizona, Collaboration Averts Water Disaster: Working hard in the Colorado River Basin to avoid a water crisis through planning, innovation, and collaboration” by Ted Cooke, the main idea is the problem of water basin management in Arizona and the drought of the Colorado river. The author describes the key issues faced by the water management system in the West today and how professionals cope with the onset of the crisis. In the paper, Cooke underlines the importance of such measures as planning, introducing innovations, and maintaining cooperation to overcome the water crisis.

Main body

According to Cooke, the complex problem of water supply that the sector of management has to face includes the effects of climate change financial and regulatory constraints (2021). The drought problem in the West, especially in Arizona, has been unfolding since the 2000s and has provided enough time to prepare and react. However, since the Colorado River’s state is naturally unstable, new problems are constantly arising. It is believed that the most important characteristics that help water management professionals prevent drought are flexibility and adaptability, thanks to which the management in the West remains at a high level (Cooke, 2021).

Cooke comments that the Colorado River serves states, tribal peoples, and the Mexican Republic, which gives about 40 million people to serve in general (2021). Moreover, the river supports ecological sources, including nature reserves and national culture parks, as well as about five million acres of agricultural land. Also, the Colorado River system includes huge resources of water in Powell and Mead Lakes, from which industry, cities, and agricultural areas are also supplied. As a result, the state of the river is under great pressure and is going its critical condition (Cooke, 2021).

The article states that the river has been experiencing drought for the past two decades (Cooke, 2021). For example, forecasts for snow cover and runoffs in the river system are becoming extremely low, and the number of reservoirs is also decreasing. The amount of water that can be used in Arizona and all areas supplied by the Colorado River is rapidly becoming lower. Thus, such characteristics led the Secretary of the Interior to announce the first-ever water shortage on the Colorado River (Cooke, 2021).

According to Cooke, problems with the decrease of water resources have been brewing since the noughties, attracting attention from the federal government (2021). Consequently, “Colorado River Interim Guidelines for Lower Basin Shorts and the Coordinated Operations for Lake Powell and Lake Mead,” also called “2007 Guidelines”, was created to fight the problem. It describes how the supply system will work for the next twenty years to prevent water shortages. However, the drought continued to worsen and posed the problem of resource depletion before the predicted time. As a result, the first thing the water management professionals began to do was search for partners to maintain a stable level of water supply (Cooke, 2021).

As stated in the article, it was in 2014 that active cooperation with institutions attached to the Colorado River began (Cooke, 2021). Together, such companies as the Southern Nevada Water Authority and the Arizona Department of Water Resources initiated and funded large-scale voluntary efforts to conserve water resources throughout the Colorado River Basin. Specifically, their steps settled mainly on water conservation in the Lake Mead basin. As a result, this helped stabilize the lake’s water level, gaining time to develop more effective protection measures against the depletion of reservoirs (Cooke, 2021).

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Cooke also admits that time has shown these measures were insufficient as the water level continued to decrease (2021). Consequently, there should have been the next step which was the creation of the Drought Contingency Plan (DRP). This document was an addition to the “2007 Guidelines” and consisted of several provisions. Moreover, it included agreements for the Lower Basin, defining new levels of cuts and contributions, agreements for the Upper Basin concentrating on operating the infrastructure, and a companion agreement with Mexico. Such measures and rapid cooperation were the best steps that could be taken in this situation. The DCP is an exceptional achievement demonstrating how parties, the partnership of water users, the federal government, states, tribal communities, and Mexico can come together to develop a solution. It is claimed that following this plan will prolong the postponement of the final stage of drought for several more years until a more innovative plan is created (Cooke, 2021).

Cooke admits that all these measures have led to a postponement of the shortage of water supply (2021). If at first, the forecasts assured that the crisis would catch people in 2016, it was eventually postponed until 2022. In addition, all this time, regional relations have been continuously improving, and the stability of the water level has been increasing. However, according to forecasts, water from the Colorado River will become less accessible to agricultural consumers in central Arizona, and the water supply of cities, tribes, and industrial consumers will not be affected in 2022. Although such control of cuts can be called a success, not a crisis, the situation of the river is still difficult (Cooke, 2021).

Cooke claims that the water supply management system is waiting for a new norm and never stops planning drought prevention measures (2021). In the short term, as long as water management professionals continue to deal with the reduction of water reserves in the Colorado River, the task of preserving it should remain paramount. For instance, the main reservoirs of the Colorado River may sink to record lows now and possibly even lower over the next five years. Thus, by the end of 2026, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior will develop new guidelines for the long-term management of the river’s reserves. However, so far, the strategy has not changed, assigning a key role to DCP measures (Cooke, 2021).


Thus, further measures to overcome drought will keep including considering possible future risks and adaptive measures of cooperation among all stakeholders. The author is also sure that innovation and planning will play a big role in preventing water shortages from saving management professionals from having to respond to emergencies. Developing partnerships and solving problems at the local and regional levels will be the key to resilience and risk adaptability. According to the author, these three factors are the main ones and have been helping to overcome the water shortage crisis for a couple of decades now.


Cooke, T. (2021). In Arizona, Collaboration Averts Water Disaster: Working hard in the Colorado River Basin to avoid a water crisis through planning, innovation, and collaboration. Public Management, 103(12). Web.