The importance of Colorado River

As part of a course on water conservation and water security, I had the pleasure to sit through a skype conversation with Taylor Hawes about the Colorado River.

The Colorado River is the artery of several of the western states. Seven states to be exact. The River also bypass national boundary into Mexico and by itself provides drinking water to over 35 million people in the two countries. So it seems the Colorado River is quite important, just how many of the 35 million people who depend on the water see this importance?

“Many people do not know where they get their water from and in many cases, the utilities do not really disclose where they get their water from,” Taylor said. Utilities are currently in a dilemma, the Colorado River is facing around 9% reduction in flow each year but as a seller of water, utilities cannot ask their customers to cut back for financial and operational perspective.

I took a quick poll around the building today and ask 10 people where the Colorado River meets the ocean, and all 10 people reply Gulf of Mexico, which is technically correct. Only one person went and point out that the River actually currently dries up before meeting the gulf.

Taylor and TNC is currently working on building a healthy river. Using Colorado as a case study, TNC wants to be able to bring enough water in the right time and place to create a good eco-system. Sounds easy? Well let’s just say if it was easy, the Colorado River would have a flowing delta and the west would not be in the water crisis that it is in right now.

Taylor Hawes is the Director of Colorado River Program for The Nature Conservancy


About t5huang

Masters in Environmental Science at UPenn Candidate
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