American Rivers says the Colorado River, which supplies crucial amounts of water to Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah, is in perilous condition, the worst of any American river. There are too many people and too much agriculture drawing from the river. It can no longer sustains itself.
The Colorado River is a lifeline in the desert— its water sustaining tens of millions of people and endangered fish and wildlife in seven states. However, demand on the river’s water now exceeds its supply, leaving the river so over-tapped that dries up to a trickle before reaching the sea. A century of water management policies and practices that have promoted wasteful water use have put the river at a critical crossroads.
If the Colorado River were a company, it would be the 19th largest employer in the Fortune 500.
In the last 13 years, water storage in the basin has decreased by 40 percent. Scientists predict climate change will reduce the Colorado River’s flow by another 10 to 30 percent by 2050. And if that is not enough to underscore the immediacy of the problem, the basin is facing another drought this summer.
It is time to put the Colorado River on the road to recovery.