More on the UCRC Demand Management Investigations

The Demand Management Storage Agreement is a component of the 2019 Upper Basin Drought Contingency Plan. The DMSA did not create or otherwise guarantee the establishment of a demand management program. It only authorized the use of unfilled storage capacity at the CRSPA Initial Units (Flaming Gorge, Aspinall, Navajo, and Lake Powell). The DMSA then directs the Upper Division States and UCRC to investigate the feasibility of a potential demand management program. Since 2019, with the solicitation of the RFP (below), the UCRC and the Upper Division States, through the Demand Management Committee (DMC) and with assistance from Reclamation and a dedicated host of contractors, have been investigating the feasibility of a demand management program.

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The Colorado River Basin and the Upper Basin

Water management and operations in the Upper Basin differ significantly from those in the Lower Basin. Only about 25 diversions from the Colorado River mainstem in the Lower Basin account for about 90% of the total mainstem water use. Each diversion is authorized and administered through contracts with the Bureau of Reclamation, the Lower Basin watermaster.

By comparison, there are thousands of surface water diversions in the Upper Colorado River Basin, with many thousands more individually held water rights. These thousands of diversions, water rights, and water users are administered and regulated under four different Upper Division State legal frameworks. This makes any comprehensive program for reducing water use in the Upper Basin an exceptionally complicated endeavor.

As stipulated in the DMSA, the purpose of a demand management program shall be to accomplish a temporary, voluntary, and compensated reduction in consumptive uses in the Upper Basin, if needed in times of drought and to help assure continued compliance with Article III of the Colorado River Compact. Importantly, a program must not impair the right to exercise existing Upper Basin water rights in the future.

Issues that Must Be Investigated….

There are many outstanding issues that must be completely investigated before an Upper Basin demand management program can be established. Those issues include, among other things, determining transit losses that will occur by moving conserved water downstream to Lake Powell, securing sufficient demand management water volumes, measuring conserved consumptive use volumes, funding, evaluating local impacts from non-use, ensuring delivery of conserved consumptive use volumes to the authorized federal storage without diminishment by downstream diverters, and developing the expertise and resources necessary to administer such a program. These issues, as well as others, are complicated by the fact that a demand management program must work in all four Upper Division States where differing water laws apply.

In addition to authorizing storage, the Demand Management Storage Agreement sets forth the minimum conditions under which the Upper Division States can access the authorized storage prior to 2026. If, after study, the UCRC determines that a demand management program is feasible, then it may develop and implement a program. A program can only be implemented if approved independently by each of the Upper Division States. The Upper Division States, through the UCRC, and the Secretary of the Interior must enter into agreements on the methodology, process, and documentation for verification and accounting for the creation, conveyance, and storage of conserved water. During the study and development of a program, and prior to entering any agreement, the UCRC and the Secretary must also consult with the Lower Division States.

If a program is developed prior to 2026, upon verification of the conserved water in storage, the water will not be subject to release from Lake Powell through 2057 except upon the request of the UCRC for compact compliance purposes. The Agreement provides a maximum combined storage limitation of 500,000 acre feet.  After 2026, any demand management program will be informed by and considered as part of the renegotiation of the current operating rules. Among other things, an account larger than 500,000 acre feet, if needed, can be considered as part of that renegotiation.

Many questions cannot be answered unless and until all of the Upper Division States and the UCRC find that a demand management program is feasible and then a program is developed and finalized. Also, no Upper Division state can provide answers to the many outstanding questions alone. They can only be provided after working with water users and stakeholders, all Upper Divisions States, the Lower Division States, and the Bureau of Reclamation. There is no timetable for the finalization of a program.

The Upper Division States and the UCRC remain committed to implementing the Demand Management Storage Agreement in accordance with its terms, and to engage in the collaborative efforts necessary to develop additional innovative and proactive solutions that fit within the existing Law of the River framework to address the challenges we face today and going forward.

Topics of the Investigation…

In 2019, the Upper Colorado River Commission (UCRC) placed a Request for Proposals soliciting qualifications-based proposals for legal, economic, and engineering-related analyses and services to investigate specific concerns and challenges related to water demand management as a component of the Upper Basin Drought Contingency Plan (DCP).

The awards were made by the Commissioners during their May 2020 Summer Meeting, and contracting and development of scopes of work proceeded through the end of 2020. In 2021, the work of the investigation began in earnest. The contractors continue to work with the UCRC and the Upper Division States, via the Demand Management Committee (comprised of representatives from the four Upper Division States of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming) to explore the feasibility of developing and employing temporary, voluntary, and compensated demand management within the Upper Colorado River Basin.

As described in the RFP below, there are four major “themes” of the work being completed “to investigate specific concerns and challenges related to water demand management as a component of the Upper Basin Drought Contingency Plan (“DCP”)”.

Legal Analyses

Western water law research and analysis.


The following tasks related to legal analysis come directly from this RFP and the UCRC and their contractors are actively exploring those issues described.

Task 2. Shepherding Water and Protection of Existing Uses

The Contractor will help research the legal and administrative mechanisms necessary to deliver, or “shepherd” conserved consumptive use volumes to Lake Powell or some other agreed upon location without diminishment by downstream diverters. In particular, the Contractor, at the direction of the UCRC Demand Management Committee and through UCRC staff, will:

  1. Facilitate and help communication among the States and UCRC staff pertaining to research on existing intrastate and interstate legal authorities and administrative frameworks, if any, required to shepherd water to Lake Powell or other designated CRSPA reservoir;
  2. Facilitate and help provide specific recommendations to the UCRC on intrastate and interstate legal authorities and administrative frameworks that must necessarily be put in place in order to accomplish shepherding;
  3. Facilitate and help States’ research on state law implications of longer-term participation in demand management for water rights (e.g. does participation in demand management make water rights vulnerable to claims of abandonment and forfeiture for non-use under the laws of each of the States?) and on recommendations regarding the protection of existing uses;
  4. In accordance with the existing authorities and obligations of each state to administer waters within the state for purposes of compact compliance, work with the States to evaluate the necessity for and means of monitoring diversion activities to ensure that conserved water can be shepherded to the place of storage; work with the States to estimate the likelihood that such resources are available now and what might be required for future state resource additions in order to accomplish such monitoring and shepherding; work with each State to research the practical aspects related to shepherding including, without limitation, the effect of a location on the likelihood of successful transport of downstream diversions of conserved consumptive volumes;
  5. Coordinate with the States, at the direction of the UCRC Demand Management Committee and through the UCRC staff, to identify and research state-specific laws governing shepherding, non-use, and other legal issues related to this task.

Technical Analyses:

  1. Water resource hydrology, reservoir storage, and river/streamflow routing and modeling,
  2. Consumptive water use monitoring, estimation, verification and accounting techniques, and
  3. Water banking, accounting, monitoring, and conveyance principles and methods

The following tasks related to technical analysis come directly from this RFP and the UCRC and their contractors are actively exploring those issues described.

Task 1: Investigations of (or related to) Water Storage

The Contractor, with assistance from the States’ legal and technical advisors and through UCRC staff, will research issues related to storing demand management water at: 1) Lake Powell; and 2) other Initial Units of the Colorado River Storage Project Act (“CRSPA”). Such research may include:

  1. Identification of existing State legal authorities that may allow, prevent or constrain such storage, as well as the potential need for legislative assistance to obtain such storage;
  2. Identification of the technical viability of the storage potential that may be available in each Initial Unit considering the frequency of filling and the likelihood of available capacity to store demand management volumes for a significant period of time;
  3. Identification of the technical and legal feasibility of creating a Lake Powell “water bank” for storage of conserved consumptive use/demand management volumes for the purpose of maintaining compliance with the 1922 Colorado River Compact;
  4. Evaluation of the concept of “credits” and whether and how they could be applied relative to the creation and storage of any conserved consumptive use volumes in a designated Initial Unit;
  5. Whether and how to make conserved consumptive use volumes stored at Lake Powell available to upstream States’ water users by exchange with other CRSPA facilities;
  6. The need for annual and/or cumulative caps on demand management storage at Lake Powell and other Initial Units; and
  7. Coordination and facilitation among the States at the direction of the UCRC Demand Management Committee through UCRC staff to identify and research State-specific issues related to this task.

Task 3: Monitoring, Accounting, and Verification of Water Amounts

The Contractor will research methods for measurement and verification of, accounting for, and monitoring of the following estimates of the amount of conserved consumptive use that could potentially be generated by each of the States in a long-term demand management program;

  1. Assessing conserved consumptive use volumes from their places of historic use to delivery at a designated Initial Unit and/or ultimately to Lake Powell, including transit losses;
  2. Appropriate methods for evaluating and charging evaporation losses to the stored water in Lake Powell or other Initial Unit;
  3. Evaluating the cost-effectiveness of storing demand management water for various periods of time. For example, is there a cost-effective amount of storage beyond which evaporation losses make storage beyond a given period of time cost prohibitive?; and
  4. All other tasks relating to demand management storage identified by the UCRC Demand Management Committee and relayed through UCRC staff.

Task 4: Duration and Extent of a Demand Management Program

The Contractor will help research the pros and cons (including economic and environmental considerations) of a demand management program being continuous or “interruptible” (e.g. whether the program should idle in years when the hydrology improves, when certain target elevations at Lake Powell are achieved, or when demand management balances or “caps” are achieved).

The Contractor will also help research and model the necessary demand management volumes to make a measurable impact on Lake Powell elevations for the purpose of helping assure compliance with the Colorado River Compact. The Contractor shall coordinate with States at the direction of the UCRC Demand Management Committee through UCRC staff to identify and understand considerations regarding duration and extent of any demand management program in each state.

Economic Analyses

Water markets and cost effectiveness of demand management (review Task 3 items below), administrative costs, socioeconomic and community impacts of demand management, long-term funding for demand management


The following tasks related to economic analysis come directly from this RFP and the UCRC and their contractors are actively exploring those issues described.

Task 3: Monitoring, Accounting, and Verification of Water Amounts

The Contractor will research methods for measurement and verification of, accounting for, and monitoring of the following:

  1. Evaluating the cost-effectiveness of storing demand management water for various periods of time. For example, is there a cost-effective amount of storage beyond which evaporation losses make storage beyond a given period of time cost prohibitive?; and
  2. All other tasks relating to demand management storage identified by the UCRC Demand Management Committee and relayed through UCRC staff.

Stakeholder Facilitation & Outreach

Ability to convene, facilitate, and coordinate discussion sessions and outreach with key stakeholders in each state or all states, the State advisors, and UCRC staff


The following tasks related to stakeholder facilitation come directly from this RFP and the UCRC and their contractors are actively exploring those issues described.

Task 5: Stakeholder Facilitation

At the request of the States, at the direction of the UCRC Demand Management Committee and through UCRC staff, the Contractor will help facilitate demand management coordination efforts/outreach with key stakeholders within individual states, or among all four States.

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RFP #2019-01-UCRC

UCRC is no longer accepting submissions for this RFP.

The Upper Colorado River Commission (UCRC) is requesting qualification-based proposals for legal, economic, and engineering-related analyses and services to investigate specific concerns and challenges related to water demand management as a component of the Upper Basin Drought Contingency Plan (DCP).

The Contractor(s) will work with State agency staff members of the Upper Division States of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming through the UCRC staff to explore the feasibility of developing and employing temporary, voluntary, and compensated demand management within the Upper Colorado River Basin, in a manner that helps reduce consumptive water use, if and when needed, to ensure ongoing compliance with the 1922 Colorado River Compact. The UCRC may make multiple awards under this solicitation.

Click here for the full RFP

This RFP was published on October 30, 2019 and will be open until December 20, 2019. Other important dates and deadlines for proposal submission are listed here and in the RFP documentation under the “Sequence of Events” section.

Written inquiries should be directed to Sara Larsen, UCRC Procurement Manager, until November 29, 2019, at the following:

Email: slarsen (at) ucrcommission.com
Mail: 355 South 400 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84111

*** Please note: The UCRC updated its “Sequence of Events” schedule on January 31, 2020.***

*** Please note: The UCRC updated its “Sequence of Events” schedule on April 24, 2020.***

The UCRC made awards to select contractors at their Regular Meeting, held on May 19, 2020, and at a Special Telephonic Meeting on June 16, 2020. The following is a list of the successful awardees and their respective segments of the RFP Scope of Work:

  • Legal Analyses – Smith Hartvigsen

  • Technical Analyses (consumptive use modeling and verification) – Desert Research Institute

  • Technical Analyses (storage and shepherded volume routing and modeling) – Hazen & Sawyer

  • Technical Analyses (project management) – Hazen & Sawyer

  • Economic Analyses – AMP Insights

  • Stakeholder Facilitation and Outreach – JUB Engineers

All proposals must be received by 3:00 P.M. Mountain Time, Friday, December 20th, 2019 at the UCRC Office at 355 South 400 East, Salt Lake City, UT 84111, either by certified mail or via email.

ANY PROPOSAL RECEIVED BY THE UCRC AFTER THE TIME AND DATE SPECIFIED SHALL NOT BE CONSIDERED. THIS RFP MAY BE CANCELLED AND ANY AND ALL PROPOSALS MAY BE REJECTED IN WHOLE OR IN PART IN THE SOLE DISCRETION OF THE UCRC.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYMENT: All qualified offerors (“Offerors”) will receive consideration for contract(s) without regard to race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Contractors for this work shall be required to comply with the President’s Executive Order No. 11246, as amended.

Proposals have been received by the following (Offeror and Date Received):

AMP Insights – 12/13/2019
Desert Research Institute – 12/20/2019
Harvey Economics – 12/19/2019
Hazen & Sawyer – 12/19/2019
Hydros Consulting – 12/20/2019
J.U.B. Engineers – 12/20/2019
Jacobs Engineering – 12/19/2019
RTI International – 12/19/2019
Smith-Hartvigsen – 12/20/2019
Squire, Patton, & Boggs – 12/20/2019
Van Ness Feldman – 12/20/2019
WestWater Research – 12/19/2019

CLARIFYING QUESTIONS & ADDENDA

Any inquiries resulting in the need for written addenda to the RFP that have been submitted to UCRC on a timely basis will be posted below, including questions posed during the pre-proposal submission conference call. All questions and addenda will be posted here and emailed to the Point of Contact listed for all Offerors. The last day to submit written questions to UCRC is 11/29/2019.

The UCRC conducted an RFP Pre-Proposal Submission Conference Call/Webinar to answer questions about the RFP. The Powerpoint presentation, which contains some helpful information and reminders, and also has the webinar questions and answers at the end, can be accessed using this link: RFP Webinar Powerpoint – 20191122 – Final Q-A Included.

  • Will the Powerpoint be made available? Yes, this Powerpoint will be made available as part of the RFP addenda and distributed to all POCs.
  • When you say “other tasks” [as assigned by the DMC in the SOW] that are open, how are we supposed to budget for them? When drawing up the proposed budget, you may include a line item for “other tasks” as assigned by the DMC. The DMC will tailor work orders for the awarded Contractor(s’) budget.
  • Do you have a preference for emailed proposals versus hard-copy? Our preference is for email, but feel free to send prior work as a packet of materials if that is easier/preferred.
  • Can you discuss who will be on the selection committee? No.
  • Do you have a copy of a draft agreement between UCRC and Contractor(s)? The contract will be similar to the General Terms & Conditions in the RFP, but that agreement hasn’t been developed yet.
  • Please confirm 1,000 points for each evaluation category. Yes, 1,000 points for each evaluation category. Final scoring will be a percentage based on actual score/potential score.
  • Confirm 10 pages total, even if applying for multiple categories. Yes, please stay with the 10-page limit for narrative sections, even if applying for multiple categories.
  • Can an entity or individual propose as a part of a team and as a single proposer for one qualification criteria? Yes, you can propose as a team for one or more qualification criteria.
  • If the source of funding is a BOR grant, are the contractors allowed to have profit (fees) on the staff rates? Yes, you may have a “billing rate” for staff that includes profit.
  • Is it your intent to hire only one contractor for each category, regardless of whether or not they are on a team? No, will probably have multiple categories for some contractors, and that’s okay. We will review where overlap is in the submissions.
  • Clarification on question above: Is it okay to propose both as a part of a team and as an individual contractor? It’s okay to propose as both part of a team and individually, but may be difficult to do, as you would be competing with your other proposal.
  • We noticed that the RFP states that the UCRC may make multiple awards, and we were hoping you could provide more information on what this might look like. For example, is the UCRC’s goal is to have one contractor oversee the entire process/set of questions and then work with sub-contractors on specifics? UCRC welcomes proposals from firms/entities that may propose to subcontract out portions of the work, if needed. There is a budget line item for “Subrecipient Contracts.” We also anticipate proposals from individual firms/entities, and “team” proposals. Please see Slide #9 of the [Q/A Webinar] Powerpoint for info. on coordination between multiple Contractors.
  • If the UCRC is considering working with multiple contractors, is the UCRC is willing to accept applications for only specific portions of the RFP? Yes, however, please see Slide #9 of the [Q/A Webinar] Powerpoint for the four core proficiencies that we would like contractors/entities to apply for (legal, technical, economic, and outreach proficiencies), as opposed to applying for particular SOW tasks.
  • Does the UCRC envision demonstration projects fitting in to the RFP? No. The SOW is directed toward legal, technical, economic analyses, and some outreach/stakeholder engagement activities. It is hoped that this work will inform pilots or additional demonstration projects, or a wider demand management program.
  • Is this solicitation targeted towards consultants or would other entities be appropriate to respond? The UCRC is committed to a highly competitive, open procurement for this RFP and wishes to solicit proposals from any and all Offerors that have the related knowledge, skills, and experience described in the header and Scope of Work sections in the RFP. As such, we welcome proposals from different types of entities as well as private consultants.
  • In addition to water rights related experience, is UCRC seeking a firm with qualifications in federal and state natural resources and environmental laws that may be implicated by development of temporary, voluntary, and compensated demand management within the Upper Colorado River Basin? Yes, in addition to water rights related analyses, firms or entities that have qualifications, experience, and/or knowledge of federal and state-level natural resource and environmental laws that are related to or implicated by demand management are welcome to send in a proposal.
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