Will Colorado Violate The Clean Water Act?

For Immediate Release
May 28, 2015
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310

Colorado’s Draft Permit For The Windy Gap Firming Project Violates The Clean Water Act And Further Drains West Slope’s Colorado River

Denver — Today, Save The Colorado sent extensive comments to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment informing them that their “draft 401 water quality certification” for the Windy Gap Firming Project (Project) fails to comply with the Clean Water Act (the comment letter is posted here). The comment letter was sent in response to the “public comment period” for the State’s water quality certification process for the project.

Save The Colorado found extensive problems with the draft permit from the State, including:

1. The draft permit almost completely relies on the fatally flawed Final Environmental Impact Statement from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for the Project.

2. The draft permit did almost no independent scientific analyses of the water quality problems that would be caused by the the Project as required by the Clean Water Act.

3. The draft permit fails to address the water quality problems the Project would cause in Grand Lake, to Colorado River temperatures, to nutrient pollution in the Colorado River, and to streamflow quantity in the Colorado River.

In fact, the State’s draft permit squarely says, “A separate alternatives analysis was not performed for the purpose of the 401 Certification, instead a summary of the alternatives selection and screening done for the FEIS is provided here.” (Tech report, page 37)

“This draft permit fails to comply with the U.S. Clean Water Act,” said Gary Wockner, E.D. of Save The Colorado. “We call upon the State of Colorado to either complete its mandated analyses independently, or suspend the certification process until the numerous shortcomings in the Final EIS identified by Save the Colorado and others are addressed.”

Unfortunately, the State’s draft permit falls directly in line with Governor Hickenlooper’s 2013 Executive order to create the Colorado Water Plan which also requires State departments to “streamline the state role in the approval and and regulatory processes regarding state water projects.” (page 3)

The Windy Gap Firming Project proposes to further drain the Colorado River in Grand County, Colorado, and pipe the West Slope water under the continental divide to slake the growth of small cities along the northern Front Range. Save The Colorado has previously commented on the extensive damage the Project would cause (see letter here) and argues that better alternatives focusing on water conservation and water-sharing agreements farmers are cheaper, faster, and easier to implement.

“The Windy Gap Firming Project would further drain and destroy the Colorado River and violate federal law,” said Gary Wockner. “The Colorado River is already on the brink of destruction, from the top to the bottom — it needs to be protected and restored, not further drained.”





Colorado River Update: Is MEAT killing the Colorado River?

Hi Friends of the Colorado River!

It’s time for a little controversy! I’m sure you’ve all been following the storm of news out of California and the Southwest U.S. about the drought and dwindling water supplies. In California, some of the wrath of the public and policymakers has focused on ca-waterthe meat industry — specifically on the cattle and dairy farms, and the alfalfa-hay industry that feeds them. Across the Colorado River basin — throughout all 7 states — over 75% of the water diverted out of the Colorado River is for agriculture. In some states like Colorado, nearly 90% is diverted out for agriculture, with a significant portion of that used for growing hay and corn which is fed to cattle in “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations” (CAFOs, also known as feedlots), and then the animals go to slaughterhouses where the meat is shipped all over the planet.

Further, some of the hay that is grown in Imperial Irrigation District of Southern California as well as in all of the seven states is shipped to China to feed the burgeoning dairy industry there. Making this even more problematic is that the hay is often shipped free of charge in the ginormous container ships that come to the U.S. loaded with Chinese retail merchandise and would otherwise go back to China empty.

Folks in the vegetarian and vegan movement are very quick to make claims about the o-PAMELA-PETA-570water use, pollution, animal cruelty, abysmal labor conditions, etc. in the meat industry. The amount of water needed to produce one hamburger is also ginormous compared to the amount of water to support a vegetarian diet. As just one example, take a look at this New York Times column, “Meat Makes The Planet Thirsty.” Here’s another story in Business Insider titled, “One chart sums up the real problem in the California drought — and it isn’t almonds.” (click through to see a great chart — in short, “food for cows” consumes massive amounts of water in California and across the Southwest U.S.)

Finally, what would the world be without People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)? They have long advocated for a vegan diet and have taken hold of the drought in California and across the Southwest U.S. to advocate for a vegan diet. In that vein, this week PETA ran this Very Provocative advertisement with Pamela Anderson. (Click through here to see the Huffingpost story on this ad.)

We’d like to know YOUR opinion on this topic. Is meat killing the Colorado River? Should we all stop eating meat? We’ve created a forum on facebook to discuss this — click through here to our facebook page and leave us your thoughts.

Media Advisory: Denver Water’s “Moffat Project” Postponed, Again

Save The Colorado

May 18, 2015

Today the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers notified Save The Colorado that the “Record of Decision” for the “Moffat System Collection Project” has been postponed again, now with a target date of “Fall 2015.”

Save The Colorado has extreme concerns about how this project would further drain gross-damand destroy the Colorado River, waste water in Denver and its suburbs, and subsidize bad water policy across the state of Colorado and the Southwest U.S. Further, the project would increase the height of Gross Dam in Southwest Boulder County by 125 feet, creating a massive wall of cement, the building of which would be the biggest construction project in the county’s history.

We are eagerly awaiting the release of the Record of Decision so that we can see if it permits this fatally flawed project that would drain another ~20,000 acre feet of water out of the entire Colorado River system at the very tip-top of the basin and pipe it under the continental divide over to the ever-sprawling Denver megalopolis. The “Moffat Project” would be the first new project in over two decades to potentially get permitted/built to drain more water out of the river.

If this project got built it would make Lake Mead drop that much faster, but yet Denver Water continues its fallacious flurry of p.r. about how they are trying to protect water supplies throughout the system. Further, Denver Water is proposing and threatening to build even more “Trans Mountain Diversions” in the future.


Colorado River Update: Lake Mead Hits Historic Low!

Hello Friends of the Colorado River!

The big doom-and-gloom news in the water world this week is that America’s former largest reservoir, Lake Mead near Las Vegas on the Colorado River, hit a historic Screenshot (257)low on last Sunday. The reservoir serves water to the states of Arizona, Nevada and California, providing sustenance to nearly 20 million people and crops that feed the nation.

All the news stories and pundits blame the historic draining of Lake Mead on drought and/or climate change, but I’m going to take a different tack on this story. The reservoir hit a historic low because the entire Colorado River water supply system has been grossly mismanaged. Further, the gross mismanagement is escalating as the upstream states plot their next moves to further drain the reservoirs imperiling the economy of the region as well as degrading the health of the Colorado River.

For nearly two decades every water supply agency in the Southwest U.S., including the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation which manages the Colorado River system, has known 110715_matt_mead_250that the river is “over-allocated”—i.e., that more water is taken out than flows in. Yet, almost nothing has been done to stem the decline which is likely to get worse as climate change progresses. Finally in 2013, the Bureau of Reclamation publicly created the “Colorado River Basin Study” that, sure enough, said the system is in severe decline and offered a bunch of ideas on how to address it. However, few of those ideas have been enacted as the nation watches the reservoir drop and Nevada, Arizona and California still take almost all of their full allotment of water out of the river.

Even more malevolently, the level of water in Lake Mead is partly driven by how much water flows into it from the upstream states of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. At the same time that Mead hit a historic low, those three states are not only still taking all of the same water out of the system, they are aggressively planning to build even more dams and reservoirs that divert more water. The three governors to the left can make or break this entire system. Consider:

  • In Colorado, Denver Water is proposing to build a larger dam/reservoir, Northern Water (which supplies water to Northern Colorado) is also proposing to build a new reservoir, and the State of Colorado is going through a planning process to build billions of dollars worth of water projects, all of which would further drain the Colorado River ecosystem.
  • In Utah, state and local planners are moving forward with a massive pipeline proposal out of the Colorado River at Lake Powell, and the state government is going through a planning process that proposes to put more dams on every river in the state.
  • In Wyoming, water planners are aggressively trying to start two reservoir projects that would further drain the Green River which flows into the Colorado, and are planning more water diversion projects in the future.

All of these projects are being proposed so the upstream states can get the last legally allowed drops of water out of the system before it collapses in the near future. This water management is a kind of “Mutually Assured Destruction” escalating the water war across the Southwest U.S.

If there is a slight bright side here it’s that the states have agreed to some “trigger” points in Lake Mead—levels to which if the reservoir drops, the states will start taking out less water, led first by Arizona. Those triggers will likely be hit in the next 12 to 18 months. Further, water agencies in Nevada, Arizona and Southern California have also agreed to some new conservation measures that will take less water out of the reservoir.

But that’s not enough. Here’s the bold action that needs to be taken:

  1. Every water supply agency needs to agree to water conservation measures that stabilize the system right now, before it reaches trigger points and collapse scenarios. The conservation measures should occur in cities and on farms across the Southwest U.S. If the water supply agencies won’t do it, the federal government—which has the authority—needs to step in and get it done.
  2. No water supply agency should propose to take one more new drop of water out of the Colorado River system. Instead of Mutually Assured Destruction, we need Multi-Lateral Disarmament. All of the proposed projects should be stopped—if the agencies won’t stop them, then the federal government should. If the federal government won’t do it, then the court system should as these projects go through permitting processes and get hit with inevitable lawsuits.
  3. The health of the Colorado River needs to addressed for the first time in history. At the top of the system in Colorado, the river is nearly drained and even more endangered by proposed dam projects. In the middle section of the river in Utah and Arizona, the dams have completely degraded the ecosystem leading to multiple endangered fish and a massively disrupted flow regime and ecology. At the bottom of the system, the Colorado River is still drained bone dry—all 5 trillion gallons drained out before it reaches the Gulf of California creating a holocaust of environmental degradation.

Gross mismanagement needs to be replaced with bold action, and then the doom and gloom news stories would be replaced with hope for a brighter future.

Stay tuned for more news you can use — we will let you know how you can take action!  Thank you for your support!


Colorado River Update: Can We Save California?

Hello Friends of the Colorado River!

Two updates this week:  First, can we save California? The devastating California drought has generated myriad responses, and into that ring Save The Colorado throws ca-drought1its recommendations. This week, we published a blog titled, “Four Ways To Beat The California Drought and Save The Colorado River.” Here are our four recommendations: 1) Jerry Brown’s drought restrictions should become permanent. 2) Southern California should become a worldwide leader in stormwater and wastewater management. 3) Enormous efficiencies can be made in Southern Calfornia’s agricultural sector. And 4), use some of Southern Calfornia’s water to restore the Colorado River Delta.

As you may know, all of Southern California — farms and cities — gets water from the Colorado River, and the drought that is impacting California is occurring across the Southwest U.S. The drought in California may feel like it’s causing extreme circumstance in the short term, but with innovative thinking and investments, the drought may become an opportunity for the state to lead the entire Southwest U.S. forward towards resilience. In a world with a changing climate, resiliency will be measured in efficiency and adaptability. Southern California may feel a bit of squeeze at the beginning, but it will blossom into a new and more efficient and thriving economy and culture more in tune with its surrounding environment. Take a read of our blog in EcoWatch here.

Second, take action to stop the proposed Tar Sands Mine near the Colorado River in Utah! With many eyes focused on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline controversy that would move tar sands mined in Canada to the gulf coast, there is a tar sands IMG_5111-771x575project gaining speed in eastern Utah that is being overlooked. A Canadian company with the name “U.S. Oil Sands” hopes to mine tar sands from tens of thousands of acres of land in Utah, which is estimated to have more than 50% of all tar sands in the United States. Tar sands is the dirtiest form of energy on the planet. Extracting, refining and burning tar sands produces three to five times as much CO2 as petroleum, which contributes dramatically to climate change. Tar sands mining could make our rivers and aquifers toxic, poisoning the drinking water for millions of people who depend on the Colorado River basin. The Colorado River system is already stressed from over-use, and polluting and using vast amounts of water to mine tar sands and oil shale is a dead-end for everyone.

Save The Colorado is working with a big coalition of groups from Denver to Los Angeles to address this threat to the Colorado River ecosystem. The State of Utah Division of Oil Gas and Mining (DOGM) should not approve the Revised Notice of Intent for Large Scale Mining at PR Springs. DOGM is accepting public comments until May 18. You can click through here to send an email to the DOGM asking them to REJECT this terrible idea. Please speak up for the Colorado Basin and a future free of dirty fossil fuels by clicking through here

Thank you for your support! Please stay tuned for more updates!

Colorado River Update: Is the California drought the “new normal?”

Hello Friends of the Colorado River!

Over the last few weeks, all eyes have focused on California and the epic drought that is hammering the state. You may have seen the news that Governor Brown issued an brown-drought-abcexecutive order that all residential water agencies need to decrease their water use by  25%. This order falls in a long line of drought and water conservation measures that the state and cities have taken over the last 2 years. But will it be enough? And is it fair?

Recall, all of Southern California receives water from the Colorado River. In fact, Southern California and the farms in Imperial County east of San Diego, are the single biggest user of Colorado River water, consuming a quarter (1/4th) of the entire flow of the river!

As California struggles through this drought, a firestorm of controversy has erupted over how the Governor’s order impacts, or doesn’t impact, various water users. As three examples: 1) activist groups throughout the state are calling for an end to fracking — that high-water use technique to extract oil and gas. If people are forced to take shorter showers, should water be used for fracking? And 2) what about farming? Various groups and stakeholders are claiming that while the Governor cutback homeowners’ water use, high-water crops like almonds and pistachios continue to proliferate across the state. Sally-Jewell-010Further, parts of California are still growing rice (which is a crop made to grow in monsoon areas), and are still growing massive amounts of alfalfa hay that is shipped to China to feed dairy cows. Finally, 3) other groups have asked the Governor to clamp down on the bottled water industry. ABC News discusses some of these issues in this TV segment here which includes a lengthy interview with Governor Brown.

What is Save The Colorado’s response to all of this? First, we encourage everyone to not think of the California drought as a temporary phenomenon, but rather as the “new normal.” We are in an extended drought in the Southwest U.S., and NASA scientists tell us that this drought could evolve into a MEGADROUGHT due to the impacts of climate change. Over a year ago, Sally Jewell who is Secretary of Interior, referred to the Colorado River drought as the “new normal” and we agree with her.

Second, the ongoing drought in the Colorado River basin and the extreme drought in n-JOHN-HICKENLOOPER-large570California continues to highlight how insane it is to propose diverting even more water out of the already extremely depleted Colorado River. As we have noted to you several times, the biggest threat to the Colorado River has come from the upstream states—Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico – with their proposals and plans to take even more water out of the river. Specifically, in recent water planning processes, Colorado proposed $20 billion worth of dam and reservoir projects, Utah proposed at least $15 billion, Wyoming proposed “10 dams in 10 years” and New Mexico endorsed a billion-dollar water project. It’s like these states are engaging in Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), where every stakeholder is fighting to get the last river-destroying drops of water out of the system. Save The Colorado oppose all new projects that want to take more water out of the Colorado River.

What can you do to help? Two things:
1. May 1st is the deadline to send in comments opposing the State of Colorado’s Water Plan. This plan proposes a massive number of new dams and water projects across the state costing billions of dollars. Please click through here to send an email to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

2. Join Save The Colorado! By joining our organization, you help us get legal standing to fight these bad water projects all across the Colorado River basin. And when you join, we send you a t-shirt. Click here to join and get a t-shirt.

Thank you for your attention and support! Stay tuned for more action!

April 1st Press Release: Upper Colorado River Basin Governors Want NO More Dams

For Immediate Release
April 1, 2015
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310

Upper Colorado River Basin Governors Switch Positions,
Call For No New Dams or Diversions and For Healthy River Flows

Colorado River, USA: Today in a joint statement, the governors in the Upper Colorado River basin switched their long-held positions and plans and called for no new dams or diversions on the Colorado River and its tributaries in order to ensure healthy river flows. The statement comes on the heels of an extended 15-year drought in the Colorado River basin, including the worst drought in history in California, and also in response to NASA scientists whose recent report warned of a MEGADROUGHT due to climate change in the Southwest U.S.. Each governor issued a similar statement, “There will be NO new dams and diversions in my state. Our rivers should be healthy and run as freely as possible.”

“We’re excited to see these governors change their positions and face the reality of drought and climate change throughout the Southwest U.S.,” said Gary Wockner, Executive Director of the Save The Colorado River Campaign. “These Upper Basin states were on track to spend tens-of-billions of dollars or more of taxpayer dollars to build hundreds of new river-destroying projects. The new approach by these forward thinking Western leaders will protect the river and water supplies for future generations of people and hundreds of species of fish, birds and animals.”

The statement from the governors represents a dramatic change in their positions. Over the last 12 months, the biggest threat to the Colorado River has come from the upstream states—Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico – with their proposals and plans to take even more water out of the river. Specifically, in recent water planning processes, Colorado proposed $20 billion worth of dam and reservoir projects, Utah proposed at least $15 billion, Wyoming proposed “10 dams in 10 years” and New Mexico endorsed a billion-dollar water project. Most of these proposed projects would take additional water out of the Colorado River before it gets to Lakes Powell and Mead. Water levels in both lakes are at historic lows and dropping with no end in sight.

Previous statements made by water officials in these states made it seem like the basin was heading for a fight over water in the Colorado River. Colorado’s lead water official recently said, “If anybody thought we were going to roll over and say, ‘OK, California, you’re in a really bad drought, you get to use the water that we were going to use,’ they’re mistaken.” And the lead water official in Utah recently stated, “It’s necessary to put dams on all rivers in Utah.”

“April 1st, 2015 (APRIL FOOLS DAY!) will be seen as a historic turning point in water management across the Southwest U.S.,” said Gary Wockner. “The vision, leadership, and stewardship of these governors will be seen as a beacon of hope to establish a clear priority to ensure rivers are healthy and flowing for individuals and communities in the West for generations to come.”

The four governors issuing the statement are John Hickenlooper from Colorado, Matt Mead from Wyoming, Gary Herbert from Utah, and Susana Martinez from New Mexico.







The California Drought: Apocalypse Now?

Happy Monday Friends of the Colorado River!

About a year ago I was speaking on a panel of water professionals in Palm Springs, California, at an event put on by the Palm Springs newspaper, The Desert Sun. The keynote speaker for the event was U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and so there was a famiglietti-smallpretty big crowd with lots local VIPS in attendance. When I was interviewed by the local TV station, I said “If it becomes a 2 year or 3 year drought, and the supply of water coming from the Colorado River gets cut back, then it will become ‘gut time.‘”

Well now California has just entered into its 4th year of drought and it’s gut time. Last week, Governor Brown moved forward with his second billion-dollar “drought relief plan.” Southern California is calling for big cutbacks in water use and is buying water from farmers in northern California. And, many cities across the state are enacting stronger water conservation plans.

One of the people on the panel with me was Jay Famiglietti, a scientist at UC-Irvine who is also with NASA. Jay has made big news the last few years by using satellites to measure groundwater across California and the Southwest U.S. He’s also been one of leading voices in the media warning California about this drought. At the same time that Californian’s have sucked their reservoirs nearly dry, they’ve also pumped massive amounts of water out of the ground. Further, across the Colorado River basin over the past 15 years, the water in Lake’s Powell and Mead has dropped by 25 million acre feet, and the amount of water pumped out of the ground that has also not been replenished has been about 25 million acre feet. Last week, Jay had an op-ed in the LA Times titled, “California has about one year of water stored. Will you ration now?”

To state this pointedly: We’ve tapped the surface rivers and reservoirs and the groundwater across California and the Southwest U.S. to lower levels than at anytime in history. And, there’s likely no way this water can ever be replenished.

JamesEklundProfile-smallSo what can we do about it? The first thing we cannot do is drain and divert even more water out of the Colorado River which provides water to the entire Southwest U.S. and Southern California. That’s why our organization has taken a strong interest and stance in the “Colorado Water Plan” and the actions of the person who is writing the plan, James Eklund, Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Unfortunately, Eklund’s plan is proposing to take a massive amount of new water out of the Colorado River — at the very top of the basin in the state of Colorado — thus ensuring even more dire circumstances for the river and folks downstream in Arizona, Nevada, and southern California. Further, Eklund has been saying “False Information” about the plan, which I pointed out in this rebuttal to one of his newspaper columns.

So what can we do right now help send a message:

1. Click through here on facebook and leave a little note to Jay Famiglietti letting him know we appreciate his work and his speaking out about this issue. He’s combining good science with sound ethics — studying a problem and speaking out about it. Jay needs to be supported in his work.

2. Click through here on facebook and leave a little note to James Eklund respectfully letting him know we are disappointed in his work so far. The Colorado Water Plan needs to focus on conservation, efficiency, recycling, and water-sharing agreements with farmers, not new diversions of water out of the Colorado River.

2015 is so far looking like a dry year in the Colorado River basin — stay tuned for more news and updates!  And thank you for your support!

James Eklund’s “False Information” about the Colorado Water Plan

James Eklund’s “False Information” about the Colorado Water Plan
by Gary  Wockner
March 12, 2015, reprinted from the Washington Park Profile

The Colorado Water Plan is an important process and document for all Coloradans to pay attention to. Unfortunately, James Eklund, in charge of the plan and director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board (WCB) appointed by Governor Hickenlooper, has made several serious false statements about the process and the current draft of the plan in his column in the March 2015 Washington Park Profile.

First, Eklund states that the process that created the draft of the Colorado Water Plan was “grassroots,” when nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is that the people who created the plan are self-appointed and purposely kept opposing anti-dam and anti-river-destruction voices from participating in the effort. A river conservation group I represent was purposely excluded from the South Platte Roundtable which wrote the plan for our basin, and a coalition that I formed – which included 18 national, regional, and local environmental groups which oppose new dams and diversions – had absolutely no (ZERO) representation on any of the state’s roundtables which wrote the plan.

Second, Eklund states that the draft of the plan represents “consensus” of everyone who wrote it, when again, nothing could be further from the truth. The plan is a “compilation,” not consensus. Eklund and the WCB combined all the regional/basin plans together and put them in the draft statewide plan – when not only is there no “consensus” about the final product, but those regional/basin plans are in dramatic disagreement.

Third, and following from above, Mr. Eklund says there was “agreement from water interests statewide.” So-Not-True. For example, the basin plan from the South Platte and Denver Metro areas calls for dramatic new, large dams and diversions from the state’s rivers, including the Colorado River, while the West Slope basin plan calls for no new or only very small diversions. Further yet, the 18 conservation groups noted above and representing over 100,000 members in Colorado, put public comments in a letter and a video calling for “no new diversions at all,” but our comments were completely ignored in the draft plan.

Fourth, Eklund insinuates the 13,000 public comments he received about the plan agree with what’s in the plan draft. Again, not true. About 12,500 of those comments came from members of the state’s many conservation groups who called for no new or only limited new dams and diversions on the state’s rivers and a much greater focus on higher levels of urban conservation, recycling water, and protecting our rivers. Mr. Eklund has been fond of saying the process has been the biggest public input effort in the state’s history, but he completely neglects to say that roughly 90 percent of that input came from conservation-minded citizens whose views are not represented by what’s in the draft plan.

Finally, Eklund says everyone has agreed to “accelerate” dam/diversion projects and “shorten the federal regulatory process.” Completely untrue. Thousands of public comments said nothing of or agreed to no such thing. Further, the federal regulatory process was enacted in the 1960s and ‘70s to ensure the public trust and the protection of America’s natural resources for past, present, and future generations. Nothing is more important than making sure America’s environmental laws – which are some of the best of any country on Earth, including the Clean Water Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Endangered Species Act – are adhered to as a fundamental bedrock of our democracy and responsibility to all the human and non-human creatures we share this amazing state with now and in the future. This democratic and environmental-protection process should never be accelerated to fast-track river destruction in Colorado.

The thousands of members of organizations I represent appreciate Mr. Eklund’s service to our state on the Colorado Water Plan and we are happy to continue working with him as this plan develops throughout 2015. However, we would also appreciate – and will make sure – that Eklund is accurate in how he represents the process and the plan so that the public’s trust is ensured as this important effort moves forward.

Gary Wockner, PhD, Executive Director, Save The Poudre and Save The Colorado


Colorado River Update! Drought, Dams, Pipelines, Paddleboards, and Climate Action Plans!

Hello Friends of the Colorado River!

Drought, dams, pipelines, paddleboard races, and climate action plans — Save The Colorado keeps track of it all! And, we’re right in the middle of the action! What are the Top Seven Stories this week, and what are we doing about it? Here’s a rundown: 

1. Can climate action plans stop megadrought and save the Colorado River? Climate change may be the #1 threat to the Colorado River — in fact, December through February was the warmest on record for the Southwest U.S. — but what are cities Screenshot (242)across the Southwest U.S. doing about it? Check out my recent post in Ecowatch here where I summarize the city climate action plans across the basin. Here’s the good news — San Diego and Fort Collins have both committed to 100% renewable energy and a few other cities have committed to 80% reductions in carbon emissions. Save The Colorado tracks and supports climate action plans as one of our programmatic activities.

2. California is in its 4th year of drought and water managers are starting to plan for worst case scenarios. The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California just announced that they are starting a large-scale advertising campaign to boost water conservation across the region. This campaign is in addition to the $100 million the District has already committed for rebates for water-saving appliances. Read the story here. Save The Colorado tracks water conservation programs and works with local groups in Southern California who are pushing water agencies to conserve more water.

3. State legislatures are now in session across the basin and are making missouri-pipedecisions (most of them bad…) about dams and water management. The Utah legislature is considering a bill to support a statewide sales tax to help fund the multi-billion dollar boondoggle of the Lake Powell Pipeline (read about it here). The Colorado legislature is considering a bill to study a massive pipeline from the Missouri River to bring water across the great plains to Colorado (read about it here). And on the bright side, the New Mexico legislature is considering bills to clamp down on the Governor’s Commission that pushed through the Gila River Diversion (read about it here). Save The Colorado keeps track of these legislative bills and communicates with the public and the media about their impact on the Colorado River ecosystem.

4. Want to have some fun this spring — try a Stand Up Paddleboard race! Save The Colorado is supporting two paddleboard races that are coming up. The first is with IMG_269012the Los Angeles Waterkeeper, called Stand Up For Clean Water, on April 18th in Malibu (click through here to register). The second is on the Colorado River itself, called the Back of Beyond Stand Up Paddle Race, in Moab on May 9th. (click through here to register). The Back of Beyond race is generously donating some of their proceeds to Save The Colorado — go team!

5. Deadbeat Dams is published! Former Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, Dan Beard, has just published a book that will very likely have everyone in the Colorado deadbeat-dams-logo1River basin talking. Titled, Deadbeat Dams: Why we need to abolish the Bureau of Reclamation and tear down Glen Canyon Dam (click here to visit the book’s website), the book has gotten several rave reviews including from Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who said, “Deadbeat Dams is a courageous book and much needed… Dams kill rivers – Deadbeat Dams restores rivers and our hope for a sustainable future.” Save The Colorado believes that Deadbeat Dams is a must-read and an important part of the conversation about the future management of the Colorado River basin.

6. What are we doing for the International Day of Action for Rivers? We’re having a party! Save The Colorado is once again joining The Environmental Group of Boulder County, Colorado, in the Rocky Mountain River Celebration. We are raising money to protect the river and will be joining friends and colleagues — including famous nature writer, Craig Childs — at Upslope Brewing in Boulder (click here to see the invitation). If you are in or around Boulder on Saturday, March 14th, join us! You can also listen to this short radio interview on KGNU about the Celebration (click here to listen).

7. What’s going on with the Colorado Water Plan? Save The Colorado is in the trenches, fighting against the powers that be to push this plan in a better direction so that it focuses on water conservation and river protection. I just wrote a stinging rebuttal to a column written by the Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, James Eklund. Published in Denver’s Washington Park Profile, my rebuttal points out the “false information” that Eklund is spewing to the public. Eklund’s column is here, and you can read my rebuttal here. We have to keep them honest and force them to protect our rivers!

Finally, what can you do to help Save The Colorado River? Join our organization by DSCF0268[1]buying a t-shirt! Then, please send us a photo of you wearing your t-shirt so we can post it on our facebook page. All the cool kids are doing it!

Click through here to buy a t-shirt.

Thank you for your support, and please stay tuned for all the weekly action!