Eric Kuhn is among the most respected water managers in the Colorado River basin. He is an engineer by training and pursued a thoughtful and creative program to manage West Slope Colorado water resources, meeting the challenge of confronting multiple needs and interests -- to divert water to East Slope Colorado, develop water resources on the West Slope, and meet downstream commitments to other Basin States.
Kuhn’s book, cowritten with John Fleck, examines one of the long held myths of the Colorado River. This myth is that the unusually wet runoff conditions of the early 20th century were not well understood by those who negotiated the Colorado River Compact. Thus, the Compact negotiators assumed there was more water to divide than there actually was. Kuhn and Fleck provide a historical perspective on the state-of-river-science in the early 20th century and show that Compact negotiators chose to primarily use information that was convenient to their policy goals. This story illustrates the persistent tension and challenge in applying the best science to public policy and the challenge in communicating scientific uncertainty in policy development.