Colorado River Basin Salinity

Hannah Waterhouse

Abstract: Located in the arid west and underlain by marine shale deposits, the water supply within the Colorado River Basin is particularly vulnerable to salinity. Resulting economic damages of approximately $300,000,000 are incurred within the basin annually due to salinity, with the agriculture sector contributing the largest amount to the anthropogenic sources of salt and sustaining the majority of the economic damage. Additionally, the complexity of the legal framework poses a great challenge to managing salinity in the future within the context of climate change. The vital role the Colorado River Basin plays in the economic, ecological, and social environment necessitates the examination of mitigation strategies for salinity management. This paper examines the history of the legal framework governing water supply, the current management strategies, and the future outlook for salinity within the basin.