By Kim Jordan and Casey Sheahan
We’ve seen enough, heard enough, and now we’re taking action.
The Colorado River begins high in Rocky Mountain National Park along the jagged edge of the Continental Divide as a sparkling river fed by pure mountain snowmelt from 13,000-foot peaks. As the river cascades downstream along its 1,450-mile journey to the Sea of Cortez, human populations have so used and abused it that by journey’s end, it is little more than a muddy, polluted ditch, often drained completely dry.
Five trillion gallons of water – that’s the average flow of the Colorado – and our society has taken it all.
Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predict climate change could dry and drain the two largest reservoirs on the river – Powell and Mead – resulting in devastating economic hardship for people in the Southwest United States. In 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation proclaimed that a 20% chance exists that within two years the water level in Lake Mead could drop so low that serious water and electric shortages will occur in Las Vegas.