Colorado’s tug-of-war over water rights boils down to the haves…and the have-nots. So who wins, now that scarcity is the norm?
In beer commercials, Colorado beckons as the state of cool mountain streams and thunderous waterfalls, but the 1820 expedition sent to survey the high plains following the Louisiana Purchase dubbed the area the “Great Desert”—unfit for cultivation and uninhabitable for people dependent on agriculture to survive. Paradoxically, both extremes hold true. Those Coors ads depict the Rockies of western Colorado, where roughly 80 percent of the state’s precipitation falls on ski-resort towns like Steamboat Springs and Telluride. To the east lies the aforementioned “desert” and 90 percent of the population, mostly in booming Front Range cities such as Denver, Pueblo, and Colorado Springs.