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Can Saving Southern California’s Beaches Save The Colorado River?

Hello Friends of the Colorado River!

Can saving Southern California’s beaches help save the Colorado River? The past two weeks we had the opportunity to visit with environmental groups in Southern California to learn more about their alternative water supply programs.  Parts of Southern California are aggressively moving forward with water conservation, wastewater reuse and recycling, and increasingly with stormwater recycling programs.  The single biggest polluter of Southern California’s beaches is stormwater runoff, and so groups like the San Diego Coastkeeper, Orange County Coastkeeper, and Los Angeles Waterkeeper are promoting programs to capture and recycle stormwater as an alternative water supply source instead of further draining and destroying the Colorado River.   We wrote a blog on the topic — please click through and read here!

Will the U.S. Department of Interior save the Colorado River?  Two weeks ago, the U.S. Dept of Interior launched its “Next Steps” in the Colorado River Basin Study. Assistant Secretary of Interior Anne Castle has been a strong proponent of moving forward with the Basin Study to provide water to the growing Southwest U.S. as well as to create healthy flows in the river itself.  The Basin Study created “work groups” that are doing further analysis on these topics and propose to come up with action plans in the future (the members of the work groups are listed here).  In addition, Assistant Secretary Castle authored an editorial in the Arizona Central here, outlining her hope for how the work groups will move forward in the “next steps.”  Titled, “Next Steps To Sustainability Begin Today On The Colorado River,” Castle discusses how “we are all in this together” and what the Department of Interior hopes to achieve.

Does what happen in Vegas stays in Vegas?  Las Vegas continues to be in a swirl of controversy around its effort to mine groundwater from hundreds of miles north in Nevada and Utah.  This week, a court continues to move forward with the lawsuits surrounding Las Vegas’ plans to get more water to slake the thirst of continued population growth (read the story here).  In addition, Las Vegas made news again this week because its “Third Straw” pipeline continues to be delayed.  Due to the declining water levels in Lake Mead, Las Vegas is spending nearly a billion dollars drilling a massive pipeline under Lake Mead in order to pull its share of water out of the Colorado River (read the story here).  Both of these issues bring up an important question — are there better alternatives than massive billion-dollar pipeline projects?  Throughout the Colorado River basin and in the Basin Study discussed above, we see cities and states talking the talk but not really walking the walk about alternatives including water conservation, water recycling, water reuse, and growth management.  States and cities need to do better — we are watching you!

Stay tuned for our weekly updates about the Colorado River!

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