July 25th marks the 92nd anniversary of the day the Colorado River was officially re-named from the “Grand” to the “Colorado.” Phoenix will be one of the hosts of a celebratory event and day of action as part of Colorado River Day, a region-wide movement to honor the waterway that serves as the backbone of the West’s economy and a critical drinking source for millions.
In its second year, the event brings together urban and rural constituencies who are calling on the Department of Interior and state governors across the basin region to implement strategies that focus on improving the urban and agricultural efficiency with which the basin states consume the Colorado River’s water. The seven Colorado River states and the Department of Interior are now meeting to determine next steps on urban water conservation, agricultural water conservation and how to keep healthy flow in the river. Conservation practices are the most cost-efficient and expedient way to effectively address the river’s supply and demand imbalance. The groups organizing Colorado River Day are asking for an actionable plan to improve conservation and river flow, not just further study.
The Colorado River and its tributaries runs through seven states (AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV, UT, WY) and supplies drinking water for 36 million Americans. The river system irrigates 15% of our nation’s crops, and facilitates recreation that adds up to $26 billion annually and supports a quarter million American jobs.
According to the Department of Interior’s Colorado River Basin Study, demand on the river’s water now exceeds supply, and the imbalance will become larger in the next 50 years. The study concluded that the most cost effective and easily implementable way to address the imbalance is to improve urban and agricultural water conservation and similar measures that focus on efficiency and flexibility.
On July 25th, representatives from urban cities and rural communities will come together in a unified movement (as did progressives and conservatives in 2012) to urge that policy makers put into practice these cost-effective conservation measures that will most efficiently resolve the predicted gap in supply and demand.