The Colorado River: America’s #1 Most Endangered River (And How to Help Save It)

Rivers are incredible, flowing powerhouses that transport an invaluable resource (water, the essence of life) across this great land. They also do other spectacular things like carve out the Grand Canyon, provide for ecosystems, shoot out into waterfalls, and support all kinds of outdoor adventure sports such as kayaking and fishing.  The Colorado River does all of these things and more. Unfortunately, it is America’s most endangered river.

I was lucky enough to hear what the Senior Director of Communications at American Rivers, Amy Kober, had to say about our precious Colorado River. The Colorado River is the lifeline for seven states. It provides drinking water for tens of millions of people from Denver to Los Angeles. The river irrigates nearly four million acres of land, which grows 15 percent of the nation’s crops.  And, the river sustains a $26 billion dollar recreation economy. Sounds like this might be something important that we should care about, right?

Years of over-allocation and drought are causing the strains in the Colorado Basin. According to the Bureau of Reclamation’s Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study (December 2012), there is not enough water in the Colorado River to meet the basin’s current water demands. As we all know, population increases are only going to be adding to the demand in the future. Climate change (it’s real people, c’mon) won’t be helping matters either.

Would it be fun to go fishing in a river with no fish? How do you feel about paying more money for your tomatoes and carrots? How about those short showers? Drought put strains on everyone, it causes lower river flows and higher water temperatures, which puts stresses on fish and wildlife. It can cause water restrictions in cities and economic hardship for farmers. We should see it as a call to action, to update our water management practices and work together across states to manage water more wisely.

We’re (American Rivers) urging Congress to follow the Bureau of Reclamation’s study with bold action and funding to build a future that includes healthy rivers, state-of-the-art water conservation for cities and agriculture, and water sharing mechanisms that allow communities to adapt to warmer temperatures and more erratic precipitation. Amy has her work cut out for her, but what can you do to protect the Colorado River? You can take action for the Colorado River and contact your elected officials at www.americanrivers.org/coloradoriver.  Also, take a look here for details on how you can win a stand up paddle board just by sending a tweet!

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