Water Journalists' Forum: Land Use Decisions Could Make or Break the River That Sustains One in Nine Americans - Gates Family Foundation

If the Colorado River Basin is a test case for how a massive watershed can prepare for scarcity in the years ahead, recent news has been encouraging.

Seven states, tribes, conservationists, and other stakeholders agreed to a Drought Contingency Plan, signed into law by President Trump in April 2019, that spreads out cutbacks so that Lake Powell and Lake Mead don’t drop too low.

While the seven-year agreement confronted the nuts-and-bolts realities of keeping water flowing to forty million people and five million acres of farmland, the hard work to bring about a truly sustainable future is just beginning, participants agreed at the Lincoln Institute Journalists Forum this spring in Phoenix.

The two-day event, attended by about 50 reporters and editors from Colorado and across the nation, was organized by the Babbitt Center for Land and Water Policy in partnership with Walton Family FoundationGates Family Foundation, and the Arizona State University Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“We’ve made enormous progress. We are learning to talk to each other,” said former Arizona Governor and U.S. Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt (video). Now, he said, “We need to talk to each other about how we’re using water . . . how water gets used on the land.”