State of the West Symposium: Tales of Two Rivers

May 09, 2022

The State of the West symposium is a gathering at Stanford to take stock of the economic and fiscal health of the western region. It features academic researchers, business and investment practitioners, and other stakeholders concerned with the well-being of the millions of Americans who dwell on the sunset side of the Hundredth Meridian.

The ninth iteration of the symposium address issues related to two unique river basins in the region, the Colorado and the Rio Grande.

12:00 – 1:00 PM — Panel 1: Climate Change and the Future of the Colorado River


One hundred years ago the seven states of the Colorado River Basin entered into the Colorado River Compact. The signatories declared that:

The major purposes of this compact are to provide for the equitable division and apportionment of the use of the waters of the Colorado River System; to establish the relative importance of different beneficial uses of water, to promote interstate comity; to remove causes of present and future controversies; and to secure the expeditious agricultural and industrial development of the Colorado River Basin, the storage of its waters, and the protection of life and property from floods. 

The Colorado has ever since arguably been the most managed river in the United States, possibly in the world. Its waters are crucially important to some 40 million people in the American Southwest.  On this centenary year, we will examine the viability of the Compact – and the health of the River — in the face of unanticipated population growth, as well as the looming challenge of region-wide meta-drought.

1:00 – 2:00 PM — Panel 2: Envisioning a Healthier Rio Grande Valley


This session will lay the groundwork for initiating multi-sector action to improve health and wellness in rural America, focusing on the Rio Grande Valley, Texas

We will begin with the demographics of the Valley, including data on health, education, employment, housing, and economic development. 

Against that background, we will address health and wellness challenges in the region with its recent tremendous growth and infrastructure expansion, as well as the impact of the Covid pandemic, which exacerbated already chronic health issues. We will explore multi-sector, collaborative, innovative initiatives in urgent need of implementation if this community and others like it in the Rural West are to achieve resilience and sustainability.