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New Coalition Spotlights Threats To Colorado River

PHOTO: Raising awareness about diversions, energy development and other activities that can negatively impact the Colorado River is the goal of a new coalition called Colorado River Connected. Photo courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation.
October 27. 2014
PHOTO: Raising awareness about diversions, energy development and other activities that can negatively impact the Colorado River is the goal of a new coalition called Colorado River Connected. Photo courtesy of the Utah Department of Transportation.

SALT LAKE CITY – A new coalition of several organizations called Colorado River Connected is focused on raising awareness about critical issues affecting the historic river, which serves millions of people living in Utah and several other Western states.

Zach Frankel, a spokesman for Colorado River Connected, says the goal is to have more unity in communities stretching from Salt Lake City to Tucson, and from Las Vegas to San Diego.

"And the days of ignoring what your neighbor is doing, especially to your water supply, especially with water pollution and water quantity, those days are over,” he states. “It's time for western residents to start demanding of their elected officials to protect their water supplies."

Frankel says water diversion projects in Utah and other upriver states can have a big impact on water supplies and prices in the lower basin states.

Utah Rivers United, Los Angeles Waterkeeper and the Glen Canyon Institute are among the organizations that have thus far joined Colorado River Connected.

Meanwhile, Gary Wockner, a member of Colorado River Connected, says many residents of Arizona, California, Nevada and New Mexico are not aware of the potential pollution of the river being caused by energy development from tar sands, fracking and oil shale in upstream states.

"The more dirty and carbon intensive fuels that we extract, the worse it is for the landscape, the more opportunities there is for pollution from that extraction process into the river,” he stresses. “And it makes climate change all that much worse, which most of the scientific models are indicating are going to make rivers flows in the Colorado River System lower."

Wockner says the hope is that millions of residents in the lower basin states will become more aware and active in responding to activities that can negatively impact the Colorado River.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT