Friday, April 19, 2013

Colorado River Listed as 2013's Most Endangered River

Colorado River, Photo Courtesy of Mismismimos
American Rivers is a nonprofit organization that has been listing America's most endangered rivers annually since 1984. The rivers are nominated by advocacy groups and are ranked based on the following criteria: 1) A major decision is pending which will impact the river's fate 2) The river's significance to human and natural communities 3) the magnitude of the threat to the river and its associated communities.

American Rivers president, Bob Irvin, describes the Colorado River as the "lifeline of the Southwest." The Colorado River supplies water to 25 million people and helps to irrigate 3.5 million acres of farmland. Assistant Interior Secretary for Water and Science Anne Castle said in a statement, "The river is the essential foundation to the health and prosperity of the American Southwest. . . It provides multiple and diverse benefits including water supplies for agriculture and people, outdoor recreation, clean energy generation, and unparalleled ecosystems."

The report identifies the threats to the river, primarily, "outdated water management that is inadequate to respond to the pressures of over-allocation and persistent drought." The drought has significantly lowered water supply which has caused increased contention as the demand for water has risen. The Bureau of Reclamation recently issued a report (Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study) which further emphasizes the supply and demand imbalances in the Basin.

It is hoped that the listing of the Colorado River as America's Most Endangered River will bring heightened visibility to this fragile resource.
Angelica Oman
Graduate Program Assistant

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