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Colorado River Update: “RED ALERT” Triggered As Lake Mead Falls to Lowest Level in History

Hi Friends of the Colorado River!

If you’re a fan of the old rock band, Blue Oyster Cult, you may remember the famous refrain in the song, Godzilla, which goes, “History shows again and again, how Nature points up the folly of man”.

Two days ago, the water level in Lake Mead — which is the largest reservoir in the U.S. — hit a historic low. Along with it, the water level in Lake Powell hit a historic low. Nature, indeed is pointing up the folly of man on the Colorado River.

Unfortunately, the people and agencies in charge of trying to fix this problem are the very same people and agencies that caused the problem. Yes, the climate-induced drought is severe, but the human managers are just sitting on their hands watching it all go to hell in a handbasket acting like there’s nothing they can do.

First, recall that two years ago, we filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Prescott, AZ, arguing that the U.S. Dept. of Interior had completely failed to account for climate change in its management plan of Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam. That lawsuit is still working its way through the courts, and almost every one of management agencies of the Colorado River has intervened AGAINST US supporting the Dept. of Interior’s non-climate analysis.

That’s right — the managers of the river across the Southwest U.S. are actually defending the Dept. of Interior in court, even though flow in the river in 2021 is 50% less than what we sued the Dept. for omitting in their analysis.

These people and agencies literally have their heads in the sand at the bottom of these dry reservoirs with no sense of reason or science supporting them.

Second, recall that although the system is collapsing, nearly 20 NEW DAMS are being planned up and down the Colorado River system. In Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, water managers are hell-bent to fuel the collapse, diverting more water out of the river system faster than ever. It’s a race to the bottom of every existing reservoir, literally an insane response to the drought and climate chaos. It would be like if your bank notified you that your account was overdrawn, and so you went to the bank and furiously tried to draw out more money as fast as possible before the ATM machine cut you off. 

Save The Colorado continues to do everything we can to fight all of these proposed new dam projects. We’re in court at the federal, state, and local level against several projects, and we are teed up against others as soon as the opportunity arises.

Finally, we continue to be excited about our “Rights of Nature” for rivers program. With water managers skirting common sense and the current legal system, we need new laws and policies to try and protect the rivers across the Southwest U.S that provide sustenance for local people, economies, and the environment. On Tuesday, June 15th, we’re giving a presentation to the Nederland, Colorado, Town Board which might become the very first Rights of Rivers program in the State of Colorado. Boulder Creek, which flows through Nederland, is a beautiful waterway, and local Nederlanders are notoriously nature-loving souls who relish in the natural world around them. Stay tuned for the outcome!

It’s your support that keeps us working hard! You can donate online by clicking here. Thank you for your support!

Gary Wockner, Director, Save The Colorado

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