The Colorado River basin and water service area encompasses much of the Southwest U.S. in the states of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming, Arizona, Nevada and Southern California. The river’s water is drained out starting at the very tippy top of the continental divide in Colorado, and all the way to the very end where the river crosses the border into Mexico. Significant tributaries include the Green River, Yampa River, Gunnison River, Dolores River, San Juan River, Little Colorado River, and the Gila River as well as dozens of smaller rivers and streams.The Colorado River is known as the most dammed, plumbed, diverted, and litigated river on the planet. In fact, the river can be seen as the origin of planetary river destruction – the massive Hoover Dam was the first big hydroelectric mega-dam in the world, a technology that has now been transported across the globe. Further, the complete draining and destruction of the Colorado River has been one of the biggest disasters in American environmental history – two million acres of wetlands have been drained in the Delta, fish have been extirpated or endangered, and massive canyons have been drowned and destroyed.In the last 16 years, an ongoing drought – coupled with climate change – has severely impacted the river and the basin. River flows have decreased to about 20% below average, and the major reservoirs of Lakes Mead and Powell are at their lowest combined storage level in history. The federal government has repeatedly launched studies, programs, and projects to address the ongoing water supply problem, including with the large-scale Colorado River Basin Study completed in 2014. Myriad programs, too numerous to list, have been launched at the federal, state, and local level to address the drought.
A joint project between Poudre Waterkeeper Gary Wockner and Colorado Riverkeeper John Weisheit, the Colorado River Waterkeeper Network’s objective is to help develop and support more Waterkeepers and Affiliates in the Colorado River basin to help protect and restore the watershed.
PO Box 1066
Fort Collins, Colorado 80522