Going, Going, Gone? Reservoirs for Colorado River Reach Record Lows
It was 92 years ago this week that the 1,450 mile long Grand River, which then flowed from high in the Rocky Mountains to Mexico’s Gulf of California, was renamed the Colorado.
Despite its continued grandeur-from high above, the blue-black river snakes beautifully through the West’s most iconographic landscapes-it is tricky to think of the river as Grand.
First off, it no longer reaches the sea, but dries up about 100 miles from the coast. And this summer the reservoirs the river feeds, Lakes Powell and Mead, will record all time lows since they were created in 1963.
What’s happened to the Grand/Colorado River in the past fifty years is emblematic of how we’ve treated rivers across the country-and around the world. We’ve over-tapped them for agricultural and urban use, ignored that they were suffering from the impacts of a warming planet too, and turned what were once lifeblood for states and communities into shadows.
What happens today to the Colorado impacts residents of seven states (Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming). Its basin supplies irrigation for 15 percent of the U.S.’s crops and supports more than 33 million people, including providing drinking water for many.
That we have somehow mis-managed this river network, draining this lifeline speaks volumes about our disregard for Mother Nature. Going back to the turn of the twentieth century, major engineering projects-mostly giant hydro dams-turned it into the most controlled and fought over water delivery system in the world. High demand from farmers and industry sucked the life out of parts of the river, today endangering its ability to create power and provide water.
To read the full article, please click here: http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/07/26/colorado-rivers-reservoirs-record-low
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