The Colorado River Research Group (CRRG) was formed in 2014 to bring scientific insights to Colorado River system management, inspired in part by the salient role played by the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists in the Murray-Darling Basin—a similar, drought-stricken region in Australia. Originally, the CRRG was launched with ten members, all academics with long, well-established involvement in Colorado River scholarship. As envisioned by the founder and first chairperson, Doug Kenney of the University of Colorado’s Getches-Wilkinson Center, the CRRG was established as an independent, knowledgeable voice insulated from political constraints, sectoral alliances, and other pressures that might impede the full consideration of relevant ideas and viewpoints. Certain ground rules were set from the beginning. The CRRG would be self-governed by unanimous consent. All decisions and products, including CRRG policy briefs, would be group efforts benefitting from the entire body's knowledge and sensibilities. Likewise, CRRG members would serve as individuals, rather than as affiliates of their universities or other organizations.
Version 2.0 of the CRRG was launched in 2021 following Doug Kenney's retirement. Amidst the Covid pandemic, Jason Robison at the University of Wyoming College of Law became the CRRG's second chairperson, enlarging its size to a dozen members that included individuals with new backgrounds and viewpoints. Several original CRRG members transitioned to emeritus status at this time. The group's commitment to consensus-based governance remained steadfast, however, along with its commitment to bringing rigorous, engaged research to policy dialogue.