5:00 am - Friday December 15, 2017

Landmark Protections for Colorado River

Kathleen Ryan

DENVER – A landmark agreement between the United States and Mexico sets up clear guidelines for how the Colorado River will be managed and protected through 2017. The agreement was signed this week and went into effect immediately. The Bureau of Land Management says it is designed to make sure that the seven states the river flows through in the U.S., as well as Mexico, will have adequate access to the river’s water.

Molly Mugglestone is project coordinator of Protect the Flows, a coalition of 600 businesses dedicated to helping preserve the Colorado and its tributaries. She is thrilled by the announcement.

“It really does set a precedent for what we hope is a long, good future for the Colorado River, in terms of decisions that are made that can really benefit the health of the river and the economy that is tied to the river.”

In Colorado, the effects will include better management for both using and conserving the water. The plans also include stepped up management for Lake Mead in times of both surplus water and drought, and measures that will help restore the river delta in Mexico, which currently is nearly dry.

Megglestone says Colorado businesses and agriculture depend on a healthy river – with a river economy worth $26 billion annually. She adds there is still work to be done to protect not only the Colorado – but also the tributaries that feed into it.

“There are strained rivers across the whole Colorado River system. Habitat is challenged and there’s need for some of those more environmental flows and those kinds of things to really create a healthier river.”

A plan for the entire Colorado River basin – including those river tributaries that flow through Colorado – is currently under review by the Bureau of Reclamation.

The announcement is available from the U.S. Department of the Interior.

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