New Digital Collection: Colorado River Compact Records

Jim Kichas Digital Archives, History, News and Events

November 24, 2022 will mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Colorado River Compact. In the eleven months between January and November of 1922, multiple meetings were held between federal and western state representatives that resulted in the Colorado River Compact. Over the course of its history, the legal framework that has emerged to manage development of the Colorado River has come to be known as “the Law of the River.” And it is the Colorado River Compact that has served as the backbone for this vast and complex legal decision-making.

In advance of this important anniversary, we have digitized and published online core records in our holdings that document the negotiation of the Colorado River Compact from Utah’s perspective. 

The Colorado River “A Natural Menace Becomes A National Resource” A Comprehensive Department Report on the Development of Water Resources of the Colorado River Basin
Office of the State Engineer Colorado River Project Records (Series 13912)

Where To Start

Each of these records holds primary source documentation of Utah’s position when it came to the negotiation of the Colorado River Compact and future use of the Colorado River as a vital resource for sustaining life in the arid West. 

For a high level view of Utah’s perspective and position at the time the Colorado River Compact was being negotiated, check out the Colorado River Compact Subject Files (Series 206) and Speeches (Series 209) of Utah Governor George Dern. 

For a legal perspective on the negotiation of the Colorado River Compact and subsequent legal actions as the Compact was put into effect with water development projects in Utah, check out Utah’s Attorney General’s Colorado River Commission Case Files (Series 165)*. In the Lieutenant Governor Interstate Compacts (Series 20221) records you’ll find agreements on water rights, law enforcement, education, juveniles, mental health, motor vehicles, supervision of parolees, civil defense and disaster, and inter-local cooperation agreements. 

For a more technical perspective of the negotiation of the Colorado River Compact and the subsequent changes it brought through major western water projects, explore the Colorado River Water Appropriation Locations Report (Series 2401)* and the Colorado River Project Records (Series 13912) from the State Engineer’s office. 

Utah Water News Newsletter
Office of the State Engineer Colorado River Project Records (Series 13912)

What’s Next

This is part one of a multi-part project. For the next phase, we will focus on the digitization of records that move beyond the Colorado River Compact and document the development and implementation of major water projects in Utah predicated on the annual allotment of Colorado River water as defined in the Colorado River Compact. These resources help tell the story of the complex and important environmental, social, and legal history of the Colorado River and its increasingly important use in Utah, the western US, and Mexico.

*Digital access to Series 2401 and Series 165 will be available by the end of January.