Claire Martin reports for Smithsonian on American Rivers’, “Annual ranking of America’s most endangered rivers, and the Colorado topped the list.”
According to a statement, released by American Rivers conservation organization, “Demands on the river’s water now exceed its supply, leaving the river so over-tapped that it no longer flows to the sea.”
Martin reports on another study by the Bureau of Reclamation, a government organization, “Determined that the entire river and its tributaries are siphoned off to meet the drinking, bathing and toilet flushing needs of 40 million Americans throughout seven states, including Arizona, California, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.”
“It also irrigates 5.5 million acres of land and helps meet the electrical-power appetite of much of the West through hydro-power facilities,” according to the report.
Also, “Nearly two dozen Native American tribes depend on it, and it’s the centerpiece of 11 national parks.”
The author included a video short by Alexandra Cousteau that explores the “southern terminus of the Colorado River”, where nothing but “mud, sand and dust” remains.
Martin lists other rivers that are endangered. She writes:
Georgia’s Flint River, the San Saba River in Texas, Wisconsin’s Little Plover River, the Catawba River in the Carolinas and Minnesota’s Boundary Waters were all also red-flagged by American Rivers this year.
“Water conservation” and “reuse” are recommended for the Colorado river, according to the report.
Scientists acknowledge some solutions they’ve looked into are easier said than done and that not all are viable in every region. For instance, options like importing water to Southern California via submarine pipelines, water bags and icebergs (PDF), along with watershed management techniques like weather modification (aka cloud-seeding) are a bit pie-in-the-sky.