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PRESS RELEASE: Save The Colorado’s Policies For Renegotiation of the 2007 Interim Guidelines for Management of the Colorado River

March 8, 2022
(updated 11/29/2022)
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310

Save The Colorado’s Policies For Renegotiation of the 2007 Interim Guidelines for Management of the Colorado River

“Original sin, the true original sin, is the blind destruction for the sake of greed of this natural paradise which lies all around us—if only we were worthy of it.” – Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

Introduction: As the 2007 Interim Guidelines for management of the Colorado River are renegotiated, and then adopted for use beginning 2026, Save The Colorado believes the ecological health of the river must be given a center seat at the table because it is the health of the river that sustains all human and non-human life in the Southwest U.S. Further, only by happenstance – quirks of the Endangered Species Act or water rights that force water downstream – has the river’s ecological health played any role in any past management plans or activities. Finally, all climate science indicates that the Colorado River will likely have significantly and consistently lower flows in the future, perhaps mirroring some of the lowest hydrology on record, like 2021.

The renegotiation of the guidelines shall include:

1. Stopping all proposed new dams and diversions because they divert more water out of the river, exacerbate ecological harm, and exacerbate management chaos.

2. Decommissioning Glen Canyon Dam and draining what little water is left in Lake Powell into Lake Mead. This “one reservoir” solution will be dramatically cheaper, hugely environmentally beneficial, and less politically corrosive than trying to dry up ~millions of acres of farms to save Lake Powell.

3. Further enacting policies that try to save Lake Mead with drought plans, water allocation plans, or other reservoir- or farm-draining plans and policies across the basin.

4. Letting an estimated 10% of the total water in the river flow through the Colorado River Delta to the Sea of Cortez every year. It’s time to partially return the flora and fauna to the Delta described by Aldo Leopold exactly 100 years ago in 1922 in The Sand County Almanac:

“At each bend we saw egrets standing in the pools ahead, each white statue mashed by its white reflection. Fleets of cormorants drove their black prows in quest of skittering mullets; avocets, willets, and yellow-legs dozed one-legged on the bars; mallards, widgeons, and teal sprang skyward in alarm.”

5. Distributing Native American water rights settlements from, and subtracting those rights from, currently diverted water users, not by or from new diversions or depletions of water out of the river. Alternatively, if tribes wish, they can be paid to keep their water in the river.

6. Dividing what water is left in the river, on an average yearly basis, by equitably distributing it out to water users based on percentages, not absolute amounts. The percentages shall be equitably distributed such that current users receive amounts of water proportional to their current diversion amounts.

This press release and policy statement is posted here.


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