Project Info

How does changing hydroclimate affect equity of water allocations? Linking streamflow and water rights

Adrienne Marshall
Steven Smith

Project Goals and Description:

Climate change is altering stream and river hydrology throughout the West, but connecting these hydroclimatic changes directly to water rights and diversions remains challenging, in part due to the lack of a unified dataset describing linkages between locations with observed streamflow and locations of diversions. In this project, the undergraduate researcher will characterize how streamflows related to water allocation across the various states and identify linkages between two disparate databases in Colorado specifically that record stream gage locations and water rights diversions, respectively. These databases will enable researchers to assess how changing hydroclimate might alter water rights allocations in Colorado and the West generally, and inform considerations about updating the water rights system to ensure equity and sustainability in a changing climate. The student will have opportunities to contribute to this research.
The student will meet regularly with Dr.s Marshall and Smith, and will also have the opportunity to join Dr. Marshall’s lab group meetings, which will provide opportunities for mentorship from graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, in addition to the faculty advisors on this project.

More Information:

Grand Challenge: Provide access to clean water.
Because this is an early stage project, there are no documents describing the project. However, some related literature includes:

Primary Contacts:

Adrienne Marshall, | Steven Smith,

Student Preparation


No specific qualifications are needed, but the student would benefit from:
  • an interest in climate change, hydrology, and/or water rights
  • ability to use a data entry system
  • familiarity with mapping software (could be ArcGIS, Google Maps, Google Earth)




  • Familiarity with Western hydrology and water rights systems with an emphasis on Colorado
  • Systematic research skills
  • Experience with mapping software
  • General professional development: written and verbal communication, working in a team, problem-solving


The student will meet weekly with Dr. Marshall, Smith, or both to report on project status and progress and identify next steps.

Preferred Student Status

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