3/20/2023 For Immediate Release Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310 John Fielder, Summit County…
Colorado River Update: “We need to save the river, not further drain it!”
Hello Amazing Friends of the Colorado River!
Summer is winding down, and the rivers in the Colorado River basin are slowing down with it. And that makes time for us to RAMP IT UP!
This past week saw a big flurry of news about the Colorado River. The U.S. govt decided that they were NOT going to declare the first official “shortage” on the Colorado River that would have cut back water delivery to AZ, CA, and NV. We were all over the story, providing outreach to the media about the govt’s declaration as well as the numerous problems with the river. The Associated Press wrote a long piece in which we again pointed out that, while the whole river system hovers on the verge of collapse, cities and states in CO, WY, and UT are STILL proposing more dams and diversions. AP quoted me saying, “We need to save the river, not further drain it.” Read the story from the Associated Press here. The combined storage in Lakes Mead and Powell continues to hover near the lowest level in history — taking more water out of the river is ridiculous.
Along with that story and the govt’s declaration, a lot of attention was focused on how AZ, CA, and NV are conserving more water to avert the looming shortage. That’s great news — in fact, the lower basin states (AZ, NV, and CA) are leading the path forward with water conservation agreements to help address the water supply problem. What the media missed though was the amazing work of grassroots environmental groups, like Save The Colorado, that also helped avert the shortage by slowing or stopping new proposed dam and diversion projects. To that end, I wrote this blog pointing out our work and why it matters — click here to take a look: “Environmental Law Enforcement Helps Avert Shortage On The Colorado River.” Along with many of our colleagues, we have helped slow or stop seven dam projects that would have diverted up to 500,000 acre feet of water out of the river every single year! With your great support, we will continue this important work of addressing the threat of more dams and diversions, and enforcing the amazing environmental laws that America has on the books!
As Lake Mead falls, Lake Powell is also under threat — most of these proposed dams would have diverted water out of CO, WY, and UT, which would have further drained Lake Powell. In addition, the State of Colorado is doing a study right now to find out how threatened Lake Powell is, and the initial results of the study suggest that Lake Powell is likely doomed by the ongoing drought, any future drought, and increasing climate change. I wrote a blog post for EcoWatch titled, “Lake Powell: Going, Going, Gone?“, that was picked up by Yahoo News and virally spread across the U.S. to be read by over a hundred thousand people. In the post, I point out that climate change is real and is likely to drain Lake Powell in the next few decades no matter what we do. If we’re smart, we will come up with a plan to drain the Lake so that various users and stakeholders can get their needs addressed over time rather than letting climate change drain it haphazardly putting all of us in a reactionary mode. Trying to keep Lake Powell alive will cost dramatic amounts of money — draining the lake will save money, water and farms in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming as well as better secure water supplies for the whole Southwest U.S. by keeping the Colorado River flowing from top to bottom.
Finally, we had our AMAZING Cataract Canyon raft trip 3 weeks ago. Another HUGE thank you to OARS Whitewater Rafting for offering us this trip. On behalf of myself, our board, and our shipmates, we say again — thank you for your support, and stay tuned for all the action this Fall!