Overtapped Colorado River tops endangered rivers list

The Colorado River, a lifeline to millions but also sapped by such high demand, was named today as the nation’s most endangered river for 2013 by a national conservation group.

American Rivers said in a news release that the Colorado River tops its list for this year due to “outdated water management that is inadequate to respond to the pressures of over-allocation and persistent drought.”

The group cited a recent U.S. Bureau of Reclamation study finding there isn’t enough water in the river to meet the river basin’s current water demands, much less support future increased demands, and pointing to the likelihood of climate change reducing the river’s flow.

The report notes that 36 million people from Denver to Los Angeles drink water from the river and it irrigates nearly 4 million acres of land that grow 15 percent of the nation’s crops. It said over-allocation and drought threaten endangered fish and wildlife, and a $26 billion recreation economy dependent on the river.

“American Rivers is calling on Congress to fund programs that encourage 21st century water management, while protecting rivers and the people, communities and wildlife they support across the Colorado Basin,” the group said.

American Rivers president Bob Irvin said that the river “is so overtapped that it dries up to a trickle before reaching the sea. We simply cannot continue with status quo water management. It is time for stakeholders across the Colorado Basin to come together around solutions to ensure reliable water supplies and a healthy river for future generations.”


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