Colorado River Compact Collection

Digital Archives

About the Collection

In the eleven months between January and November, 1922 multiple meetings were held that would culminate in the Colorado River Compact. Over the course of its legal history, the various compacts, agreements, and legal decisions that have been placed on the Colorado River have come to be known as “the Law of the River.” In this regard, the Colorado River Compact is the backbone that serves to connect everything else together. Utah’s representative to the 1922 negotiations was State Engineer, R.E. Caldwell, having been appointed by Utah Governor Charles Mabey. The major provisions ultimately agreed to in the Colorado River Compact were unique, and critical in dictating all future development made on the river.

Portion of official document for Colorado River Compact with red ribbon

Attorney General's Office Colorado River Commission case files

Series 165

This series contains assorted legal records, correspondence, and reports pertaining to Utah's role in the Colorado River Commission. Much of the physical paper content include the legal records created in the federal Arizona V. California case. It is this case (heard by the U.S. Supreme Court) that is primarily responsible for establishing water rights between states engaged in the Colorado River Compact. In addition to records that help to clarify interactions between states and their rights to water from the Colorado River, there are also records that help clarify transnational agreements concerning water use between the United States and Mexico.

Governor Dern Colorado River Compact subject file

Series 206

This series contains correspondence, memorandum, minutes, and reports pertaining to Utah's rights and responsibilities as a member of the seven-state Colorado River Compact. These are executive level records created and maintained by the office of Governor George Dern, who acted as the principal agent for Utah on issues related to the 1922 Colorado River Compact.

Governor Dern Speeches

Series 209

This series consists of speeches given by Utah Governor George Henry Dern, both as a member of the Utah Senate (1914-1922) and as governor of the state (1925-1933). Dern was a noted orator, and as a member of the Democratic Party he often gave voice to a number of progressive causes. Issues addressed by the speeches in this series include Utah's position on developing Colorado River resources

Secretary of State Interstate compacts

Series 20221

These records contain Utah's compacts with other states regarding various issues. The records include agreements on water rights, law enforcement, education, juveniles, mental health, motor vehicles, supervision of parolees, civil defense and disaster, and inter-local cooperation agreements. The records include the Colorado River Compact, which apportioned water from the Colorado River among six western states and has been an ongoing source of controversy since it went into effect.

Department of Natural Resources. Division of Water Rights Colorado River project records

Series 13912

This series is comprised of a variety of records that record how the office of the Utah State Engineer was involved with numerous actions and responsibilities pertaining to the Colorado River. Records in this series roughly begin in 1922 with the passage of the Colorado River Compact, an inter-state agreement between the western Colorado River states that stipulated how water from the river would be allocated. Final ratification of the Colorado River Compact came with the Boulder Canyon Project Act of 1928, a legal action responsible for the construction of Hoover Dam and filling of Lake Mead. This is another 20th century moment in Colorado River history that is thoroughly documented by the records present in this series.

Office of the State Engineer Colorado river water appropriations locations roster

Series 2401

This series contains pre-printed forms that provide a record of water appropriated from the Colorado River. The forms are entitled either "Notice of Location and Appropriation" or "Certificates of Water Commissioners." Regardless of the title, both forms contain the same recorded information.