It may seem in this election year that fiscal conservatives and conservationists are at loggerheads – but the two sides are agreeing on one issue: preserving the Colorado River for future generations.
People from Colorado to California are signing a letter to governors and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, calling for a common-sense approach.
The problem, says Molly Mugglestone, a coordinator for Protect the Flows, is that western growth and drought are putting undue demands on the river’s water.
“The supply and the demand scenarios over the next 50 years, they’re not looking good. We’re putting strain on the river, and it’s challenged in terms of being able to provide for what we need in the future.”
The biparitsan coalition Colorado River Day says the river provides drinking water for 36 million people, irrigates 15 percent of the nation’s crops, and is part of a $26 billion recreation industry. The group wants a number of conservation recommendations to be part of the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study that is under way.
Mugglestone has heard some extreme solutions of how to get water to the arid West, including trucking in a glacier from Alaska or building a multi-billion-dollar pipeline from the Mississippi.
“Spending taxpayer dollars on massive projects is not necessarily the right way to go. There’s other things that we need to be doing first before we start spending those types of taxpayer dollars on these massive projects.”
She says some of those ideas include using drought-tolerant plants in city landscaping, which can save up to 65 percent of municipal irrigation demands – and using pool covers on outdoor facilities, which can save an average of 16,000 gallons per pool each year.
The letter and more information is online at coloradoriverday.com.