Events & Media

The Sustainable Water Markets Fellowship Program

The Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
University of California, Santa Barbara



"Pulling Heads out of the Sand:
New Collaborations to Secure Water Resources
in the Colorado River Basin

Eloise Kendy
Director, Environmental Flows Program
The Nature Conservancy

Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014
11:30 - 12:30
Bren Hall 1414

"Eloise Kendy leads a team of scientists and policy makers whose innovative work is helping to reform water management in the Colorado River Basin. With demand for freshwater resources frequently exceeding supply, Dr. Kendy's research shows how maintaining environmental flows can benefit public health, ecosystems, and economies."

— Leslie Sanchez, host, Program Manager, Sustainable Water Markets Fellowship Program

Eloise Kendy

The Colorado River and its tributaries in the U.S. and Mexico irrigate more than 5 million acres of farmland and provide water to more 36 million municipal residents. However, drought, over-allocation, and growth are challenging farmers, cities and river ecosystems, as water use continues to grow even as scarcity increases. Native fish and birds are in decline, while cities and farms struggle with reduced water supplies. In the ultimate testament to the demands put on the Colorado, the river no longer reaches the sea. As difficult as these challenges are, failing to work together will only exacerbate the situation. Now is the time for cities, businesses and agricultural and conservation communities to demonstrate how novel water management can reduce conflict, provide secure water supplies, and restore health to depleted rivers.

The Nature Conservancy is working with partners to bring innovation and flexibility to water management in the Colorado River basin. In tandem with cities, irrigation districts, businesses and other nonprofit organizations, as well as federal, state, and local water managers, we are devising new ways to store, allocate, and distribute water equitably so that all who need water can thrive. For example, Drought Contingency Planning in the upper basin, led by the states and the Upper Colorado River Commission, proposes to use reservoir re-operation and water demand management to help bolster the level of Lake Powell, a critical reservoir on the system. A parallel drought contingency planning process is underway in the lower basin. On the ground, we are starting to mobilize private and public funding to show how strategic investments in reservoir re-operation, irrigation efficiency, water leasing, groundwater recharge, and other alternatives to permanent cropland fallowing can benefit river flows, rural economies, and urban water users alike.

Based in Helena, Montana, Eloise Kendy provides technical, scientific, and policy support to The Nature Conservancy’s freshwater programs work to protect environmental flows of rivers, lakes, and groundwater ecosystems through state and national policy. With international colleagues, she developed and is helping states implement ELOHA, a new scientific framework to establish statewide streamflow standards. She also co-manages the binational science team that designed and is monitoring responses to environmental water deliveries to the Colorado River Delta under Minute 319.

Dr. Kendy has written, lectured, and testified on environmental flows, groundwater???surface water interaction, and water management. Prior to joining the Conservancy, she conducted water- resource assessments and hydrologic modeling, and provided public education and legal and policy support for sound water management. She has been a consulting hydrogeologist, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, a hydrologist and policy analyst with the International Water Management Institute, and a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Harry Reid.

She earned her PhD in environmental engineering from Cornell University, her M. in hydrogeology from The University of Wisconsin, and her BA in Geological Sciences from UC Santa Barbara.


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