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Colorado River Update! Will GODZILLA El Nino Save Us?

Hello Friends of the Colorado River!

Will GODZILLA save us? Seriously — that’s the talk of water managers in the Colorado River basin these days. A few months ago, water managers across the basin Screenshot (371)breathed a huge sigh of relief when “Miracle Rains” happened in Colorado and Wyoming which put off the first ever water “shortage” declaration on the Colorado River until 2017.

Two weeks ago the Associated Press gave me a call and ask me my thoughts about this change and here’s what I said:  “The water supply situation is getting worse, but not as fast as it was prior to the miracle rains in May and June in Colorado. There’s no sustainable path forward, unless water supply managers make consequential change or unless the climate gets wetter” (see New York Times story here).

And now, believe it or not, water supply managers seem to be banking on the climate getting wetter, at least in the short term, in the form of “GODZILLA El Nino” this coming winter (see this Los Angeles Times article here). Past El Ninos have brought record 927691_1_0810-ANIMAS-RIVER-sized.jpg_standardrainfall to Southern California and the far southwest U.S., and that is a good thing. But, Save The Colorado believes water managers should be planning on protecting the Colorado River and its water supplies in case Miracles and Godzilla don’t come to save us.

As we’ve noted time and time again — and as I repeat in my latest High Country News column here — water managers in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico are proposing more and more dams and diversions which will drain the Colorado River even farther and imperil the health of the river and water supplies for the Southwest U.S. My column is titled, “While the Animas River spill is eye-catching, Western rivers face an even bigger threat” and was syndicated throughout the West by the Writers on the Range news service.

I went further on the record last night in this Colorado Channel 9 TV News story here where I chastised the State of Colorado — from which over 50% of the Colorado River’s flow originates in its mountains — for planning for even more dams and diversions in its Screenshot (370)Colorado Water Plan process. Over the past few months we have asked you all several times to weigh in on the Colorado Water Plan and send emails asking for more conservation and no new dams.

Well, in the second draft of the Plan, they are asking for both — an “all of the above” water policy — that both conserves water and further destroys our rivers. That’s why Save The Colorado believes we need more immediate and proactive measures to protect the river and water supplies. We support:

  1. Stopping all new dams and diversions of water out of the Colorado River and its tributaries.
  2. Dramatically ramping up water conservation programs in cities across the Southwest U.S. that depend on Colorado River water.
  3. Aggressively rethinking and changing the use of agricultural water so that low-value crops and wasteful irrigation methods are phased out.
  4. Storing water in underground aquifers rather than in above-ground reservoirs where the water evaporates and seeps away costing the Colorado River over 1/10th of its entire flow.
  5. Changing the Colorado River Compact so that it’s based on real science about how much water flows in the river, and on likely decreases in water due to climate change.
  6. Restoring a small, permanent flow of water back to the Colorado River Delta where the river no longer meets the sea. 

All of this is possible! And all of this can happen if we all stick together and move forward to make it happen. Last week Save The Colorado went on an amazing raft trip on the Green River through Gates of Lodore and Echo Canyon. Talking with friends and colleagues we envision a future for the Colorado River that protects this amazing resource for future generations of people and all of the non-human critters that depend on it for survival in a world that is increasingly uncertain due to climate change.

The time to plan and act is now! Water managers may be depending on Miracles and Godzilla, but we are not.

Thank you for your support and stay tuned for more news and action!

 

 

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