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For Immediate Release
April 1, 2015
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310
Upper Colorado River Basin Governors Switch Positions,
Call For No New Dams or Diversions and For Healthy River Flows
Colorado River, USA: Today in a joint statement, the governors in the Upper Colorado River basin switched their long-held positions and plans and called for no new dams or diversions on the Colorado River and its tributaries in order to ensure healthy river flows. The statement comes on the heels of an extended 15-year drought in the Colorado River basin, including the worst drought in history in California, and also in response to NASA scientists whose recent report warned of a MEGADROUGHT due to climate change in the Southwest U.S.. Each governor issued a similar statement, “There will be NO new dams and diversions in my state. Our rivers should be healthy and run as freely as possible.”
“We’re excited to see these governors change their positions and face the reality of drought and climate change throughout the Southwest U.S.,” said Gary Wockner, Executive Director of the Save The Colorado River Campaign. “These Upper Basin states were on track to spend tens-of-billions of dollars or more of taxpayer dollars to build hundreds of new river-destroying projects. The new approach by these forward thinking Western leaders will protect the river and water supplies for future generations of people and hundreds of species of fish, birds and animals.”
The statement from the governors represents a dramatic change in their positions. Over the last 12 months, the biggest threat to the Colorado River has come from the upstream states—Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico – with their proposals and plans to take even more water out of the river. Specifically, in recent water planning processes, Colorado proposed $20 billion worth of dam and reservoir projects, Utah proposed at least $15 billion, Wyoming proposed “10 dams in 10 years” and New Mexico endorsed a billion-dollar water project. Most of these proposed projects would take additional water out of the Colorado River before it gets to Lakes Powell and Mead. Water levels in both lakes are at historic lows and dropping with no end in sight.
Previous statements made by water officials in these states made it seem like the basin was heading for a fight over water in the Colorado River. Colorado’s lead water official recently said, “If anybody thought we were going to roll over and say, ‘OK, California, you’re in a really bad drought, you get to use the water that we were going to use,’ they’re mistaken.” And the lead water official in Utah recently stated, “It’s necessary to put dams on all rivers in Utah.”
“April 1st, 2015 (APRIL FOOLS DAY!) will be seen as a historic turning point in water management across the Southwest U.S.,” said Gary Wockner. “The vision, leadership, and stewardship of these governors will be seen as a beacon of hope to establish a clear priority to ensure rivers are healthy and flowing for individuals and communities in the West for generations to come.”
The four governors issuing the statement are John Hickenlooper from Colorado, Matt Mead from Wyoming, Gary Herbert from Utah, and Susana Martinez from New Mexico.