Hello Friends of the Colorado River!
We are fighting hard, having fun, and ready to rumble in 2016!
2015 has been a good year for our work to protect and restore the Colorado River. Here’s a quick TOP TEN of our accomplishments in 2015 and a primer for what to expect in 2016.
1. We put all the dam builders on notice! As we’ve said to you many times in these posts, even though the Colorado River is in historic drought and almost at the legal and ecological breaking point, the dam-building rascals in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and New Mexico are still proposing new dams- diversions-pipelines that would further drain and destroy the river and its tributaries. In 2015 we told everybody — “Not On Our Watch!”
We’ve intervened in the legal process for two projects in Colorado and one in Utah, and we are watching proposed projects in Wyoming and New Mexico like a dog staring into a butcher shop. That’s right — Not On Our Watch! Our team of scientists and attorneys is working hard and keeping track of every nuance of the permitting processes. Due in part to our intense bird-dogging, all of the projects have so far been delayed into 2016 and we are poised to take legal action should a project receive a permit.
2. We fought the Colorado Water Plan process and made some headway against the dam builders. The state of Colorado is very important to the Colorado River because more than half of all of the flow in the river starts as rain and snow in the mountains of Colorado. So, what happens in Colorado does not stay in Colorado. The end product was a draw — we pushed hard for a lot of conservation to be in the plan and our opponents pushed hard for more “storage” in the plan. In 2016, we’ll continue fighting for saner water policies in the state of Colorado.
3. We made climate change a big part of our work because it is one of the biggest threats to the Colorado River. We have pushed the Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers to study climate change on the river, and to study how methane emissions from dams and reservoirs make climate change worse. Scientists predict that climate change could decrease flows in the river by up to 30% — we will continue to badger the federal permitting agencies that they have to take climate change seriously.
4. We joined the fight to create the “Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument.” We joined a coalition of dozens of groups and organizations to push for the monument, which among other things, would ban uranium mining near the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon.
5. We helped host the International Waterkeeper conference in Boulder, Colorado. In June of 2015, nearly 300 water advocates from across the globe convened in Boulder. Save The Colorado was right in the middle of it, sharing the story of the river and its challenges to the international activists. Highlights of the conference were amazing speeches by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Tim deChristopher.
6. We helped promote Dan Beard’s new book, Deadbeat Dams: Why we need to abolish the Bureau or Reclamation and tear down Glen Canyon Dam. Dan, who is the former Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation appointed by President Clinton, is one of the most compelling voices in the river-protection movement today. We are delighted to help promote his book and ideas. We also increased our connections to the amazing team of filmmakers at DamNation Movie — together we are all working to fight new proposed dams and tear down some old ones in the Colorado River basin.
7. We made new friends and connections in Southern California. In June of 2015, we went on a tour of Southern California water agencies. We met with the Imperial Irrigation District, Metropolitan Water District, Coachella Valley Water District, San Diego County Water District, and Colorado River Board of California. The highlight of the trip was visiting with Director and Board of the Imperial Irrigation District which is the single biggest diverter of Colorado River water in the whole system. After lots of interesting discussion, we reached a point of agreement — “the more water that flows to the end of the river, the better.” Yes, environmentalists and farmers can reach an agreement — it was a great conversation!
8. We joined the “Keep It In The Ground” coalition. The mining of fossil fuels is one of the big polluters in the Colorado River basin, and the mining and burning of these fossil fuels is making climate change worse. We are super excited to join this massive coalition to stop fossil fuel extraction on the public lands of the American West which completely surround the Colorado River.
9. We pushed everywhere, continually for more conservation, conservation, conservation! We have pushed city governments, state governments, the federal government, water agencies, dam builders, farmers — an unbelievable amount of Colorado River water is wasted every year and conservation is the fastest, easiest, cheapest way for everyone to get more water.
10. Finally, in 2015 we reached out to you dozens of times to ask for your help, and you responded! You sent over 2,000 emails to state and federal decision-makers, you joined us in public meetings to fight dams, you provided lots of input into our work, you followed us by the thousands on Facebook (45,000 fans!), you followed us on twitter, and you JOINED SAVE THE COLORADO as members. If you haven’t yet joined, all you have to do is make a donation (PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SUPPORT OUR WORK) and you’re in!
Finally, we leave you with the most popular photo of the year from our Facebook page, below. Thank you for all of your amazing support — stay tuned for more river-saving action in 2016!