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Colorado River Update: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly!

Hello Friends of the Colorado River!

Good news first!  Remember last year when the U.S. and Mexico reached an agreement to put some water back in the bone dry Colorado River Delta? Yes! And now the next step in the process is moving forward.  We are enthralled to help promote “RAISE THE RIVER,” a joint effort between conservation groups and the Redford Center to help launch the fundraising effort to raise money to buy the water and put it back in the river so the Colorado River reaches the sea again.  The launch for Raise the River will take place on Sept. 7th in Phoenix at an event headlined by Robert Redford and Assistant Secretary of the Interior Anne Castle.  Due to the amazing success of the Watershed Movie last year, the Redford Center has now dug in its heels to partner with the environmental community in this fundraising effort.  There’s still a few tickets left to the event in Phoenix if you can join us (click here to register).  Or, Save the Colorado will be posting and blogging about the event as the day approaches, so stay tuned.  Let’s all help the Colorado River reach the sea again!

Now for some bad news. Last week for the first time in history, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation was forced to announce the first official curtailment in flows out of Lake Powell on the Colorado River.  Due to extreme drought and climate change, the levels in Lakes Powell and Mead have been dropping for the last 10 years.  The announcement last week is an attempt to keep Lake Powell and the hydroelectric dam operational as river flows and lake levels continue to drop.  This historic action on the Colorado River signals that the extreme drought in the Southwest U.S. is unrelenting and that cities and farms across the region need to begin aggressive water conservation measures in order to keep the river and the water supply alive for future generations.  This announcement was covered in dozens of media outlets across the U.S., including in this front page story in the Wall Street Journal, this editorial in the Los Angeles Times, and this widely shared posting on the Weather Channel in which Save The Colorado was quoted: “The river is already severely endangered due to way too many dams and diversions,” Gary Wockner of told National Geographic, noting the impact the reduced flows also would have on fish and wildlife throughout the Grand Canyon. “The impact on the health of the Colorado River is unsustainable.”

And now for the UGLY.  Back in May, the Governor of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, issued an Executive Order for the State to create a “State Water Plan.”  This week, a large group of water developers along the Denver metro corridor put forward a proposed plan that would basically almost drain and destroy every river in the state.  The proposed plan endorses every project on the table right now and proposes to take massive amounts of new water out of the Colorado River ecosystem in and pipe it all to the fast-growing Front Range where fracking is also sucking up billions of gallons of water.  The Summit County Voice lead with coverage of the story today, and the Governor spoke about it yesterday.  It remains to be seen if Governor Hickenlooper will let his State Water Plan get hijacked by water developers, or if he will do as he said he’d do in his State of the State speech in January, start with conservation first. We will keep on top of this story and make sure and hold our policymakers accountable for protecting and restoring our rivers, not destroying them!

Stay tuned for more action on the Colorado River!

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