Five cities that drink from river pay homage
Thursday marked 92 years since the Colorado River got its name and folks in five cities across the country took time to honor the famous waterway and talk about its importance.
In its second year, Colorado River Day took place in Grand Junction, Denver, Las Vegas, Santa Fe and Phoenix.
The event was organized by a wide coalition of organizations including the National Young Farmers Coalition, Save the Colorado, Protect the Flows and Nuestro Rio, in an effort to bring people together in support of maintaining the river. This year’s event focused on water conservation.
The Grand Junction event, held at the river overlook at Eagle Rim Park on Orchard Mesa, had a variety of speakers who talked about the importance of the river and conserving water.
Grand Junction City Council members Bennett Boeschenstein and Jim Doody spoke along with the town of Paonia’s mayor, Neal Schwieterman. Farmer Brad Webb of Mesa Park Vineyards also spoke as a representative of the local agricultural community.
“We’re here today to encourage our elected officials to talk about conservation,” said event organizer Kate Greenberg of the National Young Farmers Coalition. “We’re focused on conservation both from a municipal and agricultural standpoint.”
According to the Colorado River Day website, the Colorado River and its tributaries run through seven states and supply drinking water for 36 million Americans.
The river system irrigates 15 percent of the nation’s crops and facilitates recreation, which adds up to $26 billion annually and supports a quarter-million American jobs.
“Essentially no matter where we live in the West, we’re affected by the Colorado River,” Greenberg said.
Most of the speakers mentioned that conservation is “the low-hanging fruit” and is a great step in ensuring the sustainability of the river.
In addition to hosting media events in five Western cities, the organizations putting on the events asked mayors across the southwest to sign a statement saying they support conservation first, Greenberg said.
She said the statement will be delivered to the U.S. Department of the Interior and seven Colorado River states urging them to produce actionable measures on urban water conservation, agricultural water conservation and healthy river flows via the basin study work groups.
They are also hosting social media events and are asking people to use the hashtag #CoRiver on Twitter and connect with their elected officials that way.
“It’s our responsibility to take care of this river not for today, but for tomorrow,” Councilor Doody said.