Colorado's River Compacts

Colorado is part of nine interstate river compacts, documents which govern the use of rivers crossing state lines. Key to equitable allocation of the West's most precious resource—water—the compact clause of the U.S. Constitution was first applied to rivers in the 1920s, an idea conceived and promoted by Greeley water lawyer Delph Carpenter.

The first and best example is the Colorado River Compact. A brief document—less than 2,000 words—the Colorado River Compact emerged after nearly a year of negotiations and gained ratification only after seven years of political debate. The Compact still proves contentious today as drought, growth and the environment affect western states and their water needs.

Of Colorado’s nine compacts, Delph Carpenter had involvement to a greater or lesser extent with the first seven completed. His epithet “Father of Interstate River Compacts” is most appropriate.

Colorado’s Compacts

Facts about the Colorado River Compact

Defining Dates of the Colorado River Compact