Watershed Symposium 2018 has ended
Welcome to the official website of the 12th Annual Salt Lake County Watershed Symposium, November 14-15, 2018!  Free and open to all, the Symposium encourages a comprehensive review of the current state of our watershed while creating learning and networking opportunities for a broad array of stakeholders. Sessions cover a broad range of topics on water quality and watershed issues with local, regional, and national relevance. Hosted annually by Salt Lake County Watershed Planning & Restoration.

Powerpoints and audio recordings are available.  Click on a session and scroll down to the attached files.
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Thursday, November 15 • 8:40am - 9:15am
Doing More with Less: Climate Change in the Colorado River Basin

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Doing More with Less: Climate Change in the Colorado River Basin

With the advent of a warming climate, the Colorado River Basin is getting hotter and drier, thereby reducing water supplies to the American West. We explore the science and policy behind the expected regulatory action western communities may be forced to take through a Level I Shortage declaration expected in the next 18 months.

Full Abstract
The Colorado River Basin is home to some 30+ million people across 7 states who rely upon the river’s flows for farming, ranching, power production, drinking and landscape water and a variety of industrial use. But 7/8 of the water from the Colorado River originates in the snowy mountaintops that represent just 1/8 of this massive watershed’s land mass. For the last 15 years scientists studying trends in these snowpacks have been warning busy population centers downstream about a future of diminished snowpacks because of climate change. The cause of these flow reductions are twofold. The first and most prominent is that the jet stream that typically brings copious moisture from the Pacific Ocean to the West’s mountains is shifting north due to the increased warming of the Northern Polar relative to the equatorial region. This change has produced a Di-Pole weather system: dry conditions in the west, wet conditions in the east. This pattern has become more stagnant since 1980 and is forecast to become more intense as we warm our climate. The second aspect is the transition of our snow hydrology regime to that of a rain-driven hydrology. These two factors provide an uncertain future for the western states and their water supply. Unfortunately for Western economies, the day of prediction has arrived. In August 2018, the Bureau of Reclamation shocked the West with their official prediction that there was a 90% chance the Colorado River would drop to record low levels at Lake Mead, requiring a Level I Shortage Declaration on the Colorado River within the next 18 months. Several Lower Basin communities are now scrambling to figure out how to walk away from a portion of their Colorado River water supplies, what it means to their economies, and how much worse it may get in coming years. In this workshop we explore how science and policy are mixing together to spell a new future for Colorado River water supply and water policy. We will explore the crossroads western communities stand upon by showcasing how some communities have been embracing the science and adapting to climate change while others have ignored the science and are struggling about how to plan for tomorrow.


Zachary Frankel

Executive Director, Utah Rivers Council
Zach Frankel received his B.S. in Biology at the University of Utah and is the Executive Director of the Utah Rivers Council, which he founded in 1994.  Zach has led many exciting campaigns to protect Utah’s rivers and is an expert on water policy in Utah. Zach lives with his... Read More →
avatar for Brian McInerney

Brian McInerney

Senior Hydrologist, National Weather Service
Brian is the Senior Hydrologist at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Salt Lake City, Utah. He has worked at the National Weather Service for the past 28 years and holds a Masters Degree from the University of Montana. He is from Chicago, Illinois, and currently resides... Read More →

Thursday November 15, 2018 8:40am - 9:15am MST
Great Hall Utah Cultural Celebration Center, 1355 W 3100 S, West Valley City, UT 84119