The Color of Water in Colorado

This project works to engage government agencies, institutions of higher education on the topic, and communities of color in the realm of water and climate justice.  Built upon Dr. Tom I. Romero, II’s path breaking article, The Color of Water: Observations of a Brown Buffalo on Water Law and Policy in Ten Stanzas , the project is building new pathways for local and state government agencies to partner with, collaborate on, and readily as well as meaningfully share data, develop research questions, and disseminate information with Colorado's under-served communities on issues of water.  The scope of such issues are detailed well in the Spring 2020 issue of Headwaters Magazine: Pursuing Water Justice.

The project is initially focused in the largely northeast Denver metropolitan area where historic and contemporary water and air contamination concerns create distress and anxiety among the community's largely low-income racially minoritized residents. Using this specific area as a pilot and with institutions of higher education as a hub, the goals of the research are to strengthen the capacity of local and state government and civil society organizations to: 

  1. Partner and collaborate early in engaging community residents to raise, share, inform and develop meaningful data on issues of water justice impacting their community, 

  1. Reinforce cooperation among government agencies and under-served communities to create long-term trust and sustainable engagement; 

  1. Identify pathways for government-civil society organization partnerships to utilize and deploy the resources and expertise of Colorado's institutions of higher education to address racial and related inequities; and 

  1. Develop new and innovative methods and tools addressed to a wide range of stakeholders (including civil servants, educators, NGOs, youth leaders, etc.).  

Part of a larger quest for "good governance" through meaningful community participation, the study will promote the role of government authorities, civil society organizations, and Colorado's institutions of higher education and their networks to empower the state's under-served communities. 

Additional Resources: Want to know exactly what’s in the water that flows from your taps? Then simply plug your zip code into the latest iteration of the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Tap Water Database

References for "El Grito Del Agua" below:

The Color of Water:  Observations of a Brown Buffalo on Water Law and Policy in Ten Stanzas, 15 Denver Water Law Review 329 (2012), republished in 1 University of Miami Race & Social Justice Law Review 107 (2011)

Bridging the Confluence of Immigration and Water Law, 48 Texas Tech Law Review 779 (2016)

Ditches and Desirability:  Regulating the Flow and Quality of Immigration Through the Doctrine of Prior Appropriation in the 19th and early 20th Century American West, in Katrina Jagodinskyy and Pablo Mitchell, eds. Beyond the Borders of the Law: Critical Legal Histories of the North American West  (University of Kansas Press, 2018)

Led by

Headshot of Tom Romero

Tom Romero

Associate Professor; Faculty Director IRISE

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