Hello Friends of the Colorado River!
It RAIINED In Southern California! The big news of the week is that after months — or was it years?! — the clouds finally opened and poured down a deluge in parched Southern California. This rain follows a wet May and June in the mountains of Colorado which ran down the Colorado River and began refilling Lake Powell. In addition, because of all of the rain in Colorado, the “crisis” at Lake Mead has now dwindled at least for another year and folks in Southern California say they “dodged a bullet” that was headed for the area.
“Had it not been for those storms, Southern California could have faced 30% to 40% reductions in imported water,” said Jeff Kightlinger, the General Manager at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (read the LA Times story here). Still, the rain in Southern California has not been enough to end the epic drought there, at least for the time being. But, weather forecasters are predicting that California may have a strong “El Nino” year that could bring lots of rain to the area. Kightlinger’s agency is not taking any chances though, and just announced that they are buying farms near Blythe to suck more water over to the Metropolitan’s service area.
Colorado Wants More Dams! We’ve been communicating with you over the last year about the “Colorado Water Plan” which the State government is creating to address their purported future water challenges. Two weeks ago the state released the 2nd draft of the plan and now it is out for public comment. There’s good, bad, and ugly in the 2nd draft. On the good side, the plan has more of a focus on water conservation and on “stream management programs” that could eventually help heal some of the river destruction that has historically occurred across the state.
On the bad side, the plan supports an “all of the above” water supply future that includes more dams. On the UGLY side, the plan lays the groundwork for a major new “Trans Mountain Diversion” of water out of the Colorado River to be piped over to the sprawling Denver megalopolis. One of those proposed projects is called the “Yampa River Pumpback” which would take a massive amount of water out of the Yampa — Colorado’s last free-flowing river — and pipe it over to Denver. This Denver Post story discusses that proposal as well as others which prompted Robert F. Kennedy Jr, who is President of the International Waterkeeper Alliance, to say, “The idea of taking more water out of the Colorado River or its tributaries seems like kind of insanity right now.” We agree! Once again, you can click here and send an email to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper telling him to focus on conservation, not dams, in the Colorado Water Plan.
Bad News In Utah! Last week the State of Utah gave approval to expansion of the first-in-history tar sands mine in the United States. The Utah Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining is allowing the tar sands mine to go forward, though it did place some stipulations on water quality monitoring (read the story in the Salt Lake Tribune here). The mine has been extremely contentious with grassroots advocates as well as big green environmental groups rallying against it.
The threat of the mine is three-fold: 1) the mine could turn part of Utah in a moonscape like the tar-sand mined area in Alberta, 2) the mine could pollute groundwater and surface water and flow into the Colorado River, and 3) the mine could use a lot of water further stretching limited water supplies across the Southwest U.S. Big kudos to the environmental groups Living Rivers of Utah and Western Resource Advocates for fighting the expansion. Though the mine may go forward, the stipulations for water quality monitoring are a small victory amidst a bad news event that bodes poorly for the future of Utah.
Finally, last week we ask you to send us photos of DOGS ON PADDLEBOARDS and oh boy did you! And, we posted them on Facebook. The photo of a dog on a paddleboard on the Colorado River that got the most Facebook “likes’ is below — ENJOY! 🙂
Thank you for your support! Stay tuned for more news and action!