The Colorado River, Tapped out!

The Colorado River drains the vast basin and range area of the United States. 

The Colorado River Watershed has a Finite Area

The Colorado River Watershed has a Finite Area

Once this mighty river was free flowing into the Sea of Cortez.  Now it is dammed at the Glen Canyon Dam to create Lake Powell, and further downstream below the Grand Canyon at the Hoover Dam to create Lake Mead.  These lakes provide irrigation and drinking water for 36 million people in the Southwest and Southern California.  Thousands upon thousands of recreationists travel to their banks to fish, waterski, houseboat and generally get away from the intense summer heat.

Horseshoe Bend is just below Glen Canyon Dam

Horseshoe Bend is just below Glen Canyon Dam

Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner is one of the best reference books on the History of the fight for Colorado River water.  This 1986 book is considered a bible and teething ring for many Hydrologists throughout the country.

Here’s a brief synopsis from Wiki on this book.

Cadillac Desert, by Marc Reisner, is a 1986 book published by Viking (ISBN 0-14-017824-4) about land development and water policy in the western United States. Subtitled The American West and its Disappearing Water, it gives the history of the Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and their struggle to remake the American West. The book’s main conclusion is that development-driven policies, formed when settling the West was the country’s main concern, are having serious long-term negative effects on the environment and water quantity. The book was revised and updated in 1993.

A four-part television documentary based on the revised book was produced by KTEH-TV, the PBS affiliate in San Jose, California, in 1996. The parts are entitled Mulholland’s Dream, An American Nile, The Mercy of Nature, and The Last Oasis.

How many more people can this River support?

How many more people can this River support?

This months Scientific American magazine article expounds on what most hydrologists, water managers and politicians have known for decades.  The Colorado River is in trouble!

Here is what some of the article says;

“Indeed, 36 million of us drink water from the Colorado. The river responsible for cutting the Grand Canyon irrigates nearly four million acres of farmland where some 15 percent of the nation’s crops are grown. But according to American Rivers, over-allocation and drought have placed significant stress on water supplies and river health—and another summer drought is on the way. A 2013 study by the federal Bureau of Reclamation finds that there isn’t enough water in the Colorado to meet current demands and that the flow will be as much as 30 percent less by 2050 due to climate change.”

Check out Arizona specific water conservation information at the following website;

Remember, do your part, Conserve Water!



About rsingram

Environmental Specialist, Disaster Reservist, Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control, Para-Archeologist
This entry was posted in Colorado River, Economics, Environment, Overpopulation, Water Conservation and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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