The first annual Colorado River Day is being celebrated on Wednesday, July 25, 2012 in Phoenix, as well as in San Diego, Denver, Grand Junction, Las Vegas and Flagstaff. In Phoenix, visit the Rio Salado Audubon Center at 3131 South Central Ave. for the celebration from 11:30 to 1:00 p.m. Free lunch will be provided.
During lunch, visitors will have the opportunity to sit in on an “informative discussion” between “leaders across the political spectrum about how to solve the water problems facing Phoenix and the entire Colorado River system.”
You don’t have to be a fisherman or a river rafter in the Grand Canyon to appreciate the Colorado River.
Granted, the actual Colorado River is many miles from Phoenix, when you pass a Central Arizona Project canal, you’re looking at Colorado River water. Any time you turn on your tap, take a shower, water your yard or fill your pool, that’s Colorado River you’re using. So it’s a river worth celebrating – and worth honoring and protecting.
According to the Colorado River Day page, “The Colorado River and its tributaries give life to America’s southwest. This river system supplies drinking water for 36 million Americans, irrigates 15% of our nation’s crops, and facilitates recreation that supports a quarter million jobs and $26 billion in total economic output. However, over the last 12 years, we have lost 35% of the stored water available on the Colorado River through consumption and drought. As demand on the river’s water now exceeds its supply, this trend is on track to continue.”
The site offers “Common Sense Solutions”, including landscaping with native plants and using covers on swimming pools, to reduce the waste of water. Every bit of water saved matters. At a symposia at Payne Middle School this past May, keynote speaker Steve White, the City of Chandler Utilities Coordinator, noted that an estimated 60% of the water in the City of Chandler is used outdoors in the summer. Simply removing lawns, which are not sustainable in the desert, and replacing them with desert landscape or drought tolerant plants would help reduce water waste.
On the Colorado River Day website, Lani Lutar of the San Diego Taxpayers Association is quoted: “We want accountable, cost-efficient government. Extracting all the value we can from each drop of water we already have is in the best interest of taxpayers.”
I would argue that not extracting every drop of water we already have should be the actual goal, in the interest of conservation both for future generations and for stewardship of healthy riparian ecosystems. That kind of ethic would be something worth celebrating.
Long live the Colorado River!