GJ cited for healthy approach to rivers

Grand Junction is one of eight cities in the United States leading the way in preparing for climate change, according to AmericanRivers.org.

The city at the junction of the Colorado and Gunnison rivers was selected because “of the value it places on healthy rivers as community assets,” the organization said.

The report, “Natural Security: How Sustainable Water Strategies are Preparing Communities for Climate Change,” is being released as Congress is dealing with measures to help communities prepare for the floods, droughts and waterborne diseases that come with a changing climate, American Rivers said.

“We are at a transformational moment for our nation’s rivers and water infrastructure, and Grand Junction is forging the path to a healthier, more secure future,” said Rebecca Wodder, president of American Rivers.

Much of the focus on Grand Junction is due to the Colorado Riverfront Project, which was aimed at cleaning up the riverbanks to allow for recreational and commercial development.

The effort also included the cleanup of the old uranium mill and tailings piles near downtown, and moving a salvage yard off the banks.

Grand Junction Mayor Bruce Hill said he wasn’t aware that the organization had taken note of the city, but said the recognition was welcome.

“It’s reflective of the community working together,” Hill said, citing efforts by state and local organizations.

The Riverfront Project wasn’t driven by any need to deal with climate change, Hill said, but it has resulted in an asset to the Grand Valley.

Other communities cited by American Rivers are:

•  Portland, Ore., for its “green street,” eco-roof and downspout disconnection programs, combined with other investments, will reduce sewage overflows by 96 percent.

• Boston, for protecting wetlands along the Charles River, saving $40 million in flood damage every year.

• Clayton County, Ga., for beating a drought with an innovative water recycling system.

• Soldiers Grove, Wis., for moving 49 homes and businesses out of the floodplain to higher grounds.

• Staten Island, N.Y., for its use of streams and wetlands to transport and treat stormwater runoff.

• Seattle for its water-conservation and efficiency measures that reduced per capita water use 33 percent since 1990.

• Augusta, Maine, for the removal of the Edwards Dam, resulting in improved water quality, healthier fish and wildlife and better recreation.


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