University of Colorado Boulder
Water in the Western United States
University of Colorado Boulder

Water in the Western United States

Taught in English

Some content may not be translated

3,389 already enrolled


Gain insight into a topic and learn the fundamentals

Eric Gordon
Anne U. Gold

Instructors: Eric Gordon


(23 reviews)

Beginner level
No prior experience required
23 hours to complete
3 weeks at 7 hours a week
Flexible schedule
Learn at your own pace

What you'll learn

  • Understand the unique aspects of water supply and demand issues in the western US and how water systems have adapted to them.

  • Explain historical and scientific issues around water management in the western US.

  • Recognize major sources of water supplies in the western US and the impact of individual “water footprints."

  • Describe some of the ways in which scientists study research questions related to water and climate in the western US.

Details to know

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There are 5 modules in this course

Are you ready? In this module, we introduce you to how the course works, describe the unique nature of water issues in the American West, and provide important background that will orient you to the region we are studying and the science of hydrology. Let's get started!

What's included

4 videos5 readings1 discussion prompt1 plugin

How did the American West end up with many of the world's largest dams? How does the West's unique legal system for allocating water work? Who gets the right to use water how, and why? We'll cover these topics and more in our module on history, politics, and culture!

What's included

6 videos4 readings2 quizzes

Is the West drying up? What happens to a watershed when many of the trees in it die? Let's explore the major scientific issues related to water in the American West. Along the way, we'll hear from a number of experts working on some of the latest cutting-edge research in hydrology, ecology, climate, and more!

What's included

8 videos10 readings2 quizzes

The Colorado River is a vital source of drinking water for nearly 40 million people and supplies countless farms across a parched landscape. Cutting through nearly 1,500 miles of mountains and deserts, the Colorado's small size belies the fact that it is one of the most intensively managed and litigated rivers in the world. That makes this river perfect for exploring many of the concepts we've covered already in our course.

What's included

5 videos7 readings2 quizzes

In this course, we've emphasized the importance of how the scarcity of water in the American West has shaped so many of the issues around it. In this final module, we'll present some specific cases of complex and often controversial issues that come up because of the unique nature of water in the Western US.

What's included

6 videos6 readings1 quiz1 peer review1 plugin


Eric Gordon
University of Colorado Boulder
1 Course3,389 learners
Anne U. Gold
University of Colorado Boulder
3 Courses7,058 learners

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