The Colorado River basin is one of the most highly engineered watersheds in the world. The basin occupies approximately 640,000 square kilometers (km2) equivalent to 264,000 square miles (mi2) in the United States and Mexico. The Colorado River flows approximately 2,330 km (1,450 mi) from its headwaters in the Rocky Mountains of northern Colorado to the Gulf of California in Baja California, Mexico. The river system includes three major tributaries, the Green River, the Gunnison River, and the San Juan River, as well as ten major regulating reservoirs. In the United States, the watershed includes 7 states: Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, and California. In Mexico, the watershed includes 2 states: Baja California and Sonora.

In the United States and Mexico, the Colorado River supplies more than 40 million people with renewable water. In addition, the river system provides water for more than 5.5 million acres of irrigated agriculture, which provides 15% of the total US' crop production. The dams along the river system have hydro-electric power plants with a total generating capacity of 4,177.8 MWH, and in 1996 produced 12.2 billion kilo-watts-hours (KWhr). The Colorado River is an essential source of water for at least 22 federally recognized Indian tribes, 7 national wildlife refuges, 4 national recreational areas, and 11 national parks.

The Central Arizona Project (CAP) is the steward of Arizona's portion of the 2.8 MAF Colorado River entitlements available to central Arizona. CAP works collaboratively with stakeholders in Arizona, the Colorado River Basin States, and the federal governments of the United States and Mexico to ensure reliable water supplies are available to meet CAP's customers' needs. CAP's strategic objectives include:  influencing the management of the Colorado River system to optimize the supply available to CAP, developing new water supplies to augment the Colorado River, protecting CAP's Colorado River water supply, evaluating and managing risks posed to CAP from climate change and prolonged drought, and implementing water management programs to reduce the risk of shortages to CAP.