The Colorado is America’s Most Endangered River

Today’s guest blog about the #1 Colorado River- a part of our America’s Most Endangered Rivers® series- is from Gary Wockner, Director of the Save The Colorado River Campaign. Save The Colorado provides funding for environmental organizations throughout the Colorado River basin.

Mark Twain once said, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”  His words ring true today about another river, the Colorado, that many call the lifeblood of the West. In some places the Colorado River is drained dry, in others its flows are so depleted and manipulated that fish and wildlife are federally listed as “endangered,” and in yet others more dam/diversion/pipeline projects are proposed that would drain the last legally allowed drops of water out of the river.  

We can no longer deny it – the Colorado is the Most Endangered River in America.

Today, over 30 million people throughout the Southwestern U.S. and Northern Mexico depend on the Colorado River’s water.  In 30 years, that total number is likely to double. We must innovate and think deeply about how to use and conserve water far more wisely; we also need to think more seriously about overall population growth and local growth patterns.

Even as our populations grow, the climate is changing.  We know that drought is likely to be the “new normal” in the Colorado River basin, and scientists tell us that climate change could reduce the amount of water in the Colorado River ecosystem by 9% to 20%. Predictions of the famed Lake Mead and Lake Powell being drained dry are a small but real part of this picture.

Against the backdrop of a changing climate and growing population, cities and states unfortunately continue to bark up the wrong tree – proposing dam, reservoir, pipeline, and energy projects that would drain the last drops of free-flowing Colorado River and its tributaries, instead of aggressively focusing on water conservation, efficiency, and a rapid shift away from dirty energy projects.

The good news is that the federal government has stepped up its efforts to address our endangered Colorado River.Now it’s time for Congress to get into the act too. Congress needs to provide more funding for water conservation programs throughout the basin, needs to support investments to increase the efficiency of water projects that are already built, and needs provide funding to promote and protect the Colorado River itself.

Congress needs to hear from you! Take Action Now so that DENIAL doesn’t further deplete the Colorado River.