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Colorado River Report

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The Colorado Report

The Colorado River Report describes the hydrology and sediment transport of the river basin. It also describes the relation to the political boundaries and basic agreements that manage the river. Then the report characterizes important problems, both current and future, associated with the way the river is managed. Finally, its policies, actions, and alliances that should help restore the Colorado River ecosystem to a more balanced condition are suggested. “An inhospitable desert has become a playground, and the Colorado River has become a plumbing system.” Although there is a lack of rainfall and high summer temperatures, this dry desert is now home to tens of millions of people. This includes some of the major agricultural areas in the United States. By exploiting the Colorado River, which gets most of its water from snowmelt in the Rocky Mountains, Americans have made the desert bloom with cotton, alfalfa, fruits, vegetables, specialty food plants, houses, and artificial recreation areas. By people settling on this area they have used a large amount of resources the river offers. Some of the problems the creation of this plumbing system has cause is it has wreaked havoc on the river resulting in most of the native fish are endangered, that major bird migration stops are severely truncated and degraded, that some of the most spectacular scenery in the world is less spectacular, and that the national and world economies are at risk. One of the problems identified by the Colorado River Task Force is that the current usage of the Colorado Rivers unsustainable. The existing plumbing system is vulnerable to natural events, such as drought or earthquakes. Reconstructed histories of the region strongly suggest that prolonged droughts, several times longer than those experienced in the last 150 years, are real, although irregular, features of what is now the southwestern United States. California 4.4 Plan “Of the water that must be delivered by the Upper Basin states to the Lower Basin, California has for many years been using more than its share.” California's allocation of the Colorado River is 4.4 maf/yr., yet California's usage from the river has regularly exceeded 4.4 and has been as much as 5.2 maf/yr. To follow through with the plan it will require the use of water saved in the agricultural distribution system. There is significant pressure for California to develop and adhere to a plan by 2015. It is unclear that any such plan can be put in place without causing major disruption of California’s existing economy, continued population growth with forecasts of 50 million Californians within 30 years. The Bureau of Reclamation is allowing California “a soft landing” on the implementation of its 4.4 Plan. This will permit additional deliveries to California until 2015, unless severe drought occurs. I agree with the plan, as a nation we need to save our failing environment. As long our economy can handle the plan and California isn’t in a long drought the plan can help save the Colorado River and regulate the Southwest’s water supply and usage.

Citations http://www.sierraclub.org/rcc/southwest/coreport/recommendations.asp http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/water/download/riversreport.pdf

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