Study Estimates Economic Value of the Colorado River

Jan 28, 2015

Map accompanying unrelated Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study
Credit Bureau of Land Management / Public Domain

A new study on the Colorado River estimates the Basin would lose almost two-thirds of its economic value were the waterway to run dry.  KRCC’s Dana Cronin reports.

Researchers at Arizona State University found the Colorado River system accounts for more than 1.4 trillion dollars in economic activity and provides nearly 16 million jobs. In Colorado, that would mean a loss of nearly 200 billion dollars of economic activity and 2 million jobs.

Tim James is the primary author of the study. He says although the disappearance of the river is not likely, the notion offers insight.  

"What exactly is the Colorado River system worth as it is currently being used in the seven basin states?," says James. "That’s really what you get when you completely delete the use of Colorado River water from the seven Basin states and then look at what the economies would look like. You get a real evaluation of what the river system itself is actually worth to us.”

A business coalition called Protect the Flows commissioned the study. The group plans to bring the findings to government officials in the basin states as well as decision-makers in Washington.