The Colorado River’s Future

Posted: Nov 1, 2010

Written by

Editorial, New York Times

Last month, Ken Salazar, the secretary of the interior, committed $1.5 million to establish a study group focusing on the Colorado River basin. Modest as the dollar amount sounds, this is a very good investment. The study will be the first of three river basin studies — called the WaterSMART program — aimed at measuring the nation’s water demands and resources, including the potential impacts of climate change.

Starting with the Colorado River makes sense. Since 1922, its water has been allocated among seven Western states under a legal compact. The amount each state can draw from the river is based on water levels measured in 1922, after several wet years...

The seven states have already begun intensive water conservation efforts. It seems clear that these efforts will have to be redoubled, not only to meet human needs but also to protect the diverse ecosystems the river nourishes on its way from its headwaters in the Colorado Rockies to the Gulf of California. The study will help chart that course, and, from the looks of things, its findings cannot come a moment too soon.


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