Act now to Protect the Colorado River in the face of climate change 

Lake Mead, Colorado River | Photo by Colleen Miniuk

The Colorado River provides drinking water for 40 million people, irrigates five million acres of farm and ranch land and supports a $1.4 trillion economy. All of this is at risk due to rising temperatures and drought driven by climate change, combined with outdated river management and overallocation of limited water supplies. 

River flows are at historic lows and the levels of Lake Powell and Lake Mead reservoirs are dropping precipitously. With the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the seven Colorado River Basin states and the Biden administration now have a critical opportunity to implement proven, equitable solutions that enhance water security and river health, while building resilience to future climate change. Failure is simply not an option, given all that depends on a healthy, flowing Colorado River.

There is not enough water in the Colorado River to meet all current needs. The entire system is operating at a deficit, and climate change is expected to further reduce the river’s flow by 10 to 30 percent by 2050. Drought has impacted large portions of the Colorado River Basin for years -- shrinking snowpack, warmer temperatures and increasing evaporation have led to widespread aridification (i.e., extreme dryness) that endangers water supplies and river health.  In March, water levels fell below the threshold that signals an urgent water supply crisis in the Basin.

We need to take bold action now to protect our water supply and the health of the Colorado River. With the passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in the U.S., Colorado River Basin states have access to billions of dollars for projects that build climate resiliency and support the people and wildlife that depend upon the river. This is an unparalleled opportunity to invest in strategies that will position the region with its rivers, farms and economy to adapt and even thrive in a hotter and drier future. 

Please tell state and federal officials that now is the time to spend these funds wisely and take action to save the Colorado River!



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