WRI has conducted in-depth studies in a number of key river basins around the world. These basin studies have helped develop, refine, and validate the Water Risk Framework at the core of the Aqueduct global maps, and uncovered a wealth of knowledge about the unique conditions in critical river basins around the world.

The Colorado River basin crosses seven western United States and Mexico. Use of the Colorado River is governed by a complex set of laws, treaties, and judicial decisions known as the Law of the River, apportioning every last drop of the river. Besides being located in an arid region, there is increasing danger of water shortage due to rapid population growth, significant agricultural water demand, and decreasing supply. Extensive infrastructure development has dramatically altered the natural flow of the river, which is now dictated by timed releases from reservoirs.

The Colorado River Basin Study focuses on the specific characteristics of the indicator data and calculation in the Colorado River Basin. The data used for the study were developed in consultation with local experts and are publicly available. The details of the data, sources, and methodology are provided in the Colorado River Basin Study metadata document.


Suggested Citation: Gassert, F., T. Shiao, and M. Luck. 2013. “Colorado River Basin Study.” Working Paper. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute.

Use limitations

The WRI Aqueduct Colorado River Basin Study database is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (unported) License.

File format

ESRI Geodatabase