home .
[poll archive] [home]
Poll Analysis
March 31, 2003

Coloradans Want to Keep Their Colorado River Water
Analysis by Floyd Ciruli

Colorado voters want to keep their full share of Colorado River water, some of which currently flows to downstream states. Nine out of ten voters (91%) want to claim excess Colorado River water.

Question: In most of Colorado’s river basins all the water has been put to legal use. But it is estimated that approximately 450,000 to 1 million acre-feet a year of the state’s Colorado River water is not legally allocated for use. The surplus Colorado River water flows west out of the state and is used by residents, businesses and farms in California. Recently California has been ordered to stop using Colorado River water that exceeds their legal rights. Do you believe Colorado should keep its share of Colorado River water and use it here or not keep its share of Colorado River water?

The Colorado River, which begins near the Continental Divide in north central Colorado and flows west through Grand Junction to the Utah state line, produces between 450,000 and 1 million acre/feet of unclaimed, surplus water that flows downstream and is used by other states.

The statewide survey of 603 registered voters was conducted by Ciruli Associates from March 8-11, 2003 (±4.0 percentage points) for www.ciruli.com.

Statewide Support for Keeping Colorado Water
Support in every major region of the state is at or above 90 percent in favor of keeping surplus Colorado River water to be used here. The highest level of support comes from the Eastern Plains (96%) and the lowest from the metro area and Western Slope (90% each).

See previous question

The Colorado General Assembly has just overwhelmingly passed a joint Senate and House resolution, HJR 1011, calling for the state to “take all steps necessary to quantify, protect and support the State of Colorado’s rights to Colorado River water resources under the Colorado River Compacts of 1922 and 1948Ö” The resolution was sponsored by Representative Ted Harvey of Highlands Ranch and Senator Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs.

Water Supply Projects Needed to Capture Runoff
Despite reports that the drought may be easing, Colorado voters strongly support more “projects to store runoff water for later use.” Seventy-three percent of residents say the state needs more storage. In fact, that percentage increased by 3 percent since the same question was originally asked of voters in a July 2002 poll.

Although the survey was conducted prior to the record storm of March 18 and 19, 2003, public support for storage to capture and save runoff is not likely to diminish and more likely to increase.

Question: Do you believe the state of Colorado needs to build additional storage projects to store runoff water for later use or does it have sufficient storage?

Additional storage is supported by citizens from each of Colorado’s five geographic regions. Residents of the Eastern Plains (93%) and the Western Slope (78%) are most supportive, but no region is below 70 percent support. Republicans (76%) and unaffiliated (76%) voters most strongly support building storage projects. Seventy percent of Democrats agree more storage is needed.

See previous question


  • Telephone survey was conducted by Ciruli Associates from March 8 to March 11, 2003 with 603 Colorado adult registered voters. Selection from a random sample of statewide registered voters who voted in the 2000 presidential election or are newly registered since November 2000.

  • Statistical range of accuracy in 19 out of 20 cases is ±4.0 percentage points for a sample size of 603. Sample tolerances for subgroups are larger. For example, the confidence interval for a subgroup of 300 respondents is ±5.7 percentage points. Due to rounding, not all totals equal 100 percent. Survey results can be affected by other factors such as question wording and order.

  • Ciruli Associates is a non-partisan research, communication and public policy firm providing consulting services to Colorado and national organizations since 1976.

[top] [archives] [home] [send this page to a friend]