A Victory for the Crystal River!
2013 has been a big year for the Crystal River in Colorado. After nearly 5 decades, a proposal to construct two large dams on the main-stem Crystal River and a tributary stream is dead!
In 2011, American Rivers joined Pitkin County to oppose the water rights for the dam projects arguing that there is no longer a quantifiable need for the projects and that the projects could not be built in a reasonable amount of time. At the 11th hour, just weeks before the case was scheduled to go to trial, American Rivers, Pitkin County, and the holders of the water rights agreed to a settlement that eliminates all rights to construct dams and other associated infrastructure within the Crystal River Basin.
This is a tremendous victory for one of the longest undammed rivers in the state of Colorado and for the communities that depend on it for its world class recreational and natural values, for agriculture, and for clean water.
The threat of dams on the Crystal River is gone for now, but who knows what the future looks like? The well-publicized water supply imbalance in the Colorado River Basin compounded by persistent drought and climate change may very well put a crosshair on the Crystal River again. This is why the dedicated communities along the river are beginning to plan for permanent protection of their river, possibly through the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
For now, the Crystal River runs wild and free and that is a good thing.
American Rivers highlighted the Crystal River in the 2012 America’s Most Endangered Rivers® report. In 2013, we covered the entire Colorado River Basin as the #1 river on our list. Water users throughout the basin must begin to work together to address concerns with a limited water supply.
Help us protect other rivers in the Colorado River Basin! Tell Congress to support funding of critical programs that address sustainable water supply in the Colorado River Basin and across the West.