Implementation of Water Reserves in Bolivia Using its Existing Water Law Framework

By Rising Colorado Law 2L Colin Hull

Colorado Law Student, Colin Hull worked with the World Wildlife Fund’s Water Reserves Initiative as part of the GWC’s David Harrison Innovations in Water and Energy Law & Policy Fellowship. As part of this Fellowship, Colin produced the following report exploring water reserves in South America.

The urgency of the climate crisis and Bolivia’s efforts to rapidly develop threatens its watersheds and natural flowing rivers.  The Water Reserves Initiative, which allocates water to the environment, is essential to ensure the sustainability of water as a resource and protect its ecological benefits. A 2016 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) consultancy briefly addressed the possibility and problems of implementing a water reserves program at the national level. This analysis builds off the 2016 consultancy by assessing the legal framework and the priorities of the Bolivian government. The research focused on constitutional provisions, laws, regulations, and government plans that relate to the management of water. While the Bolivian government recognizes the need for a comprehensive water management program, numerous institutional deficiencies and contradictions in the legal framework serve as barriers to the implementation of any program at the national level. The findings suggest that there are several legal gaps that need to be filled before the Water Reserves Initiative can be successfully developed. However, there are several entry points for the WWF to begin working with the Bolivian government to implement the Water Reserves Initiative.

The WWF’s Water Reserves Initiative is an effort aimed at protecting hydrological conditions by allocating water for the environment in a region’s most important water producing areas. The program hopes to secure protection of freshwater ecosystems and free-flowing rivers, and the environmental benefits they provide. These benefits include the transport of sediments and nutrients, fish spawning and productivity, riparian protection, a buffer against natural variability in water availability, cultural values, recreation and navigation.  Furthermore, allocating water to the environment can prevent the over-allocation of water, which inevitably leads to serious water conflicts. It hopes to secure these protections by explicitly allocating water to the environment by statute or official decree where it has not already been allocated for agricultural, industrial, energy, or drinking purposes. The Water Reserve Initiative provides an opportunity to set rules for future infrastructure development and water allocation. It can contribute to better water governance since it sets the stage to analyze project impacts that could lead to the denial of a license if problems related to flow connectivity and biodiversity conservation arise…

View the full report here:

Implementation-of-Water-Reserves-in-Bolivia.-Harrison-Fellow-Colin-Hull.pdf (

2022 Ruth Wright Distinguished Lecture in Natural Resources

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Mobilizing the Global Community on Climate Change:
An Indigenous Leadership Perspective

Fawn R. Sharp
President, National Congress of American Indians

Indigenous Peoples have long embraced a special responsibility to care for all living beings and steward their lands consistent with cultural, spiritual, and economic traditions. Fawn Sharp will share her perspectives on the relationship between human rights and climate justice, as well as advocacy under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, comparative experiences among Indigenous Peoples around the world, and local needs of tribal leaders and communities in the United States.

Conference Recording

Conference Program

CLE Accreditation Notice

42 Annual Colorado Law Conference on Natural Resources

Thursday, June 16 and Friday, June 17

2026 May Be Too Late: Hard Conversations About Really Complicated Issues

There is no debate – demands for water across the Colorado River Basin exceed the shrinking supply. Chronic drought, record heat, increasing winds and aridity, as well as rampant wildfires are diminishing the Basin’s overall health and resilience. The historically low levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell have invited unprecedented federal action and raise the specter of a looming energy crisis. To ensure a sustainable future, these harsh realities will require inclusive collaborations and innovative actions. We brought together a broad array of expertise and diverse perspectives from across the region to candidly discuss these complex challenges. Throughout this conference we examined potential options to advance sustainable water management, expand basin-wide conservation in every sector, and strengthen watershed resilience.

Conference Recording

Conference Program

CLE Accreditation Notice

Charles Wilkinson Book Review – Our Common Ground: A History of America’s Public Land by John D. Leshy.

The book review is published by the Environmental Law Amicus, a project of Lewis and Clark Law School. Publication forthcoming in the Lewis and Clark Law Journal, Environmental Law.

“For more than a century, the arc of public land history has bent decisively toward the national government conserving more and more lands for conservation, public education, and inspiration.”  That is a strong statement.  Many people, including experts, who read this book will at first be taken aback by the expansive nature of Leshy’s findings; in reading the book, I was at first skeptical.  The myths that Leshy identifies had become part of the woodwork.  But the more I read, I realized how powerful and accurate his fully documented assessment is.

My expectation is that Our Common Ground will open up the history, current status, and future of the public lands to discussion and debate as never before.  This masterful volume will have staying power and we can expect it to be influential and constructive for generations to come.

Check out the full book review at:

Our Common Ground: A History of America’s Public Lands

Thursday, April 21, 2022

John Leshy, Author
Distinguished Professor of Law
University of California, Hastings College of Law

The little-known story of how the U.S. government came to hold nearly one-third of the nation’s land and manage it primarily for recreation, education and conservation.

America’s public lands include more than 600 million acres of forests, plains, mountains, wetlands, deserts, and shorelines. In this book, John Leshy, a leading expert in public lands policy, discusses the key political decisions that led to this, beginning at the very founding of the nation. He traces the emergence of a bipartisan political consensus in favor of the national government holding these vast land areas primarily for recreation, education, and conservation of biodiversity and cultural resources. That consensus remains strong and continues to shape American identity. Such a success story of the political system is a bright spot in an era of cynicism about government. This book is essential reading for anyone who cares about public lands, and it is particularly timely as the world grapples with the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.

Panel Moderator

Professor Mark Squillace, University of Colorado Raphael J. Moses Professor of Law


Eric Dude, U.S. Department of the Interior, Attorney/Advisory (2019 Colorado Law Wyss Scholar)

Alison Flint, The Wilderness Society, Senior Legal Director

Maria Handley, The Wilderness Society, Senior Director of Strategic Partnerships & Organizing

Professor Patty Limerick, University of Colorado Center of the American West

Johnsie Wilkinson, Colorado Law rising 3L (2021 Colorado Law Wyss Scholar)

Presented by the Colorado Law Wyss Scholar is U.S. Lands Conservation, the Colorado Environmental Law Journal, and the Getches-Wilkinson Center.

Our Common Ground Event Video

14th Annual Schultz Lecture in Energy

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Tapestry, X’s Moonshot for the Electric Grid
Audrey Zibelman
Vice President, X’s Electric Grid Moonshot

Nations are finally committing to greenhouse gas emission reduction targets that could limit global warming. However, technical obstacles to the decarbonization of electric power could yet prevent those commitments from being realized.

The low carbon electrical grids of the future will need to be powered by millions of geographically decentralized, weather-dependent power generation assets. Today’s grids are virtually the opposite: hierarchical, centralized and concentrated. Anything less than a seamless transition from the former to the future state could significantly impact the reliability, affordability and safety of electric power that is already being challenged by climate change.

A modern data-driven grid can enable such a seamless transition. Harnessing the quadrillions of gigabytes of data generated by future connected power systems is key to real-time visibility into grid assets; to improving dispatch, reduced outages, and to our ability to simulate future scenarios optimized around the decentralized future grid.

Audrey Zibelman discusses the opportunities and challenges for governments, utilities, system operators, developers and customers of harnessing data to accelerate decarbonization policy with reliable affordable power.

14th Annual Schultz Lecture in Energy Video

CLE Accreditation Notice

Jacob Jose (Law ’23) Named 2022 Colorado Law Wyss Scholar

University of Colorado Law School student Jacob Jose (’23) has been named the 2022-2023 Colorado Law Wyss Scholar in U.S. Lands Conservation. Jose, a J.D. candidate, is Colorado Law’s fifth Wyss Scholar. The Wyss Scholars Program, awarded to one Colorado Law student each year, supports graduate-level education for promising leaders in United States land conservation. Recipients receive generous financial assistance to cover the full cost of one year of law school, as well as funds for internship opportunities, research assistance, and postgraduate support. Wyss Scholars learn the latest in conservation law and policy and apply that knowledge in careers at land management agencies and nonprofit conservation groups.

Jacob Jose has leveraged the formal education and practical experiences as a Colorado Law student to develop into a conservation advocate. Last summer, Jacob served as the Colorado Law Harrison Fellow, working with The Nature Conservancy researching and proposing transactional tools to produce water savings in the Colorado River Delta. Currently, he serves as a legal extern at the Fish and Wildlife Service, working to bridge programmatic and legal staff and to ensure conservation goals are achieved. This summer as part of the Wyss Scholar Program summer internship, he will work as a legal intern with the Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resource Division’s Wildlife and Marine Resource Section ensuring that the agencies fulfill their obligations to protect endangered species and their habitats. Jacob envisions these experiences will prepare him to one-day craft policy and apply legal tools to protect and sustain the land, landscapes, and natural resources, from which he draws inspiration.

In Memoriam, Justice Gregory J. Hobbs Jr.

Gregory J. Hobbs Jr.
1944 – 2021

The water and law communities across the West are mourning the unexpected loss of Justice Gregory Hobbs who died peacefully on November 30 with his wife and children by his side. A master of water law and jurisprudence, Justice Hobbs’ interests were as deep and varied as the western waters he knew so well.  He was a mentor, a teacher, a storyteller, an explorer, a photographer and poet.  A Renaissance man with unparalleled joie de vivre who will be sorely missed.

Justice Hobbs was a long-time supporter and treasured advisor to the Center. In his honor, we have gathered remembrances from friends of Colorado Law who knew him best. We include several of his photographs and poems that those of us who were lucky enough to be on his email list all treasure.

We hope this brings you some joy as we remember a remarkable man.

Please see our tribute here:

41st Annual Colorado Law Conference on Natural Resources

Thursday, September 30 and Friday, October 1

Equity in the Colorado River Basin: How to Sustainably Manage a Shrinking Resource

Simply put – demands for water in the Colorado River Basin exceed supply.  Chronic drought, record heat, and rampant wildfires are already affecting the Basin’s overall health and resilience, and the historically low levels in Lakes Mead and Powell led to an unprecedented call on the river.  These compounding challenges come at a time when several key components of the “Law of the River” are sunsetting in 2026.  Key players are already revisiting the 2007 Interim Guidelines, Minute 323, and the 2019 Drought Contingency Plan.  Relatedly, endangered fish recovery programs relevant to the region expire in 2023.  Meanwhile, 48% of Tribal households in the U.S. do not have access to reliable water sources, clean drinking water, or basic sanitation.  These harsh realities hasten the need to advance sustainable water management, improve watershed resilience, and ensure clean water access through collaborative decision-making.  We look forward to bringing together diverse expertise from across the region to draw the roadmap to an equitable future in the Colorado River Basin.

41st Annual Colorado Law Conference on Natural Resources

Equity in the Colorado River Basin Conference Recording

Conference Program

CLE Accreditation Notice

Land, Water, & People: The Natural Resource Priorities of the Biden Administration

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Colorado Law Dean James Anaya leads a moderated conversation with Secretary Haaland and Congressman Neguse exploring both agency and legislative priorities regarding public lands and water management, resource extraction, energy development, and related tribal issues – with an environmental/climate justice lens.

Land, Water, and People Event Video Now Available

CLE Accreditation Notice