Document Type



Master of Arts


Earth and Environmental Sciences

First Adviser

Casagrande, David G.

Other advisers/committee members

Gillroy, John M.; Morris, Donald P.


This thesis analyzes the Law of the River’s normative foundation andrecommends how the foundation ought to be restructured in light of climate change and to effectively address the over-appropriation of the Colorado River’s water and the deterioration of the Colorado River’s ecosystem. Guided by the assumptions and principles of policy design, the thesis examines events leading up to the Colorado River Compact of 1922’s approval, the Law of the River’s keystone law, to determine the Compact’s inherent normative argument. Concluding the Compact implicitly integrates the American west’s dominant water allocation system, an analysis is conducted to show how prior appropriation is representative of the market paradigm. Recognizing the market paradigm cannot adequately address the Colorado River River’s current predicament, the thesis proceeds to demonstrate John Wesley Powell’s alternative settlement system for western America as fundamentally representative of the market paradigm. This understanding contrasts with the assumption made prior to analysis that his system represented an integrated normative theory which compensated for the market paradigm’s inadequacies. With the nullification of John Wesley Powell, the thesis proceeds to illustrate how the Balinese Hindu philosophy Tri Hita Karana represents the complex reasoning needed to serve as the basis for alternative Law to manage the Colorado River. From a paradigm of the philosophy showing how Tri Hita Karana effectively compensates for the market paradigm’s inadequacies, a list of provisions is recommended that ought to be included in a revised Colorado River Compact grounded in a complex normative theory similar to Tri Hita Karana.