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Report: Colorado River Vital to Arizona's Economy

PHOTO: The Colorado River means millions of jobs and billions of dollars to Arizona's economy each year, according to a new report. Photo courtesy Arizona Department of Water Resources.
PHOTO: The Colorado River means millions of jobs and billions of dollars to Arizona's economy each year, according to a new report. Photo courtesy Arizona Department of Water Resources.
January 16, 2015

PHOENIX - Arizona's economy and the Colorado River are linked to the point that one may not exist without the other, according to a new study.

The report from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University concluded that the river contributed more than 2 million jobs and $185 billion to Arizona's economy last year.

"No water in the West would basically wipe out the West in terms of economic activity in all of its forms - agricultural, industrial, residential, whatever," said report co-author Dr. Timothy James, a professor of economics at Arizona State. "It would mean that we would just have a decimated economy, really, and there would be no reason for us actually to be here."

Each year, James said, Colorado River water generates $1.4 trillion and 16 million jobs across the seven Colorado Basin states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

As the Colorado River continues to experience drought and the region's population continues to grow, James said, conservation has become even more critical.

"Given it's a scarce resource, what we should be doing is using it as carefully as possible to make sure that we get the maximum benefit out of it," he said.

The Colorado River stretches 1,450 miles from the central Rocky Mountains and flows southwest across the Colorado Plateau to Lake Mead before turning south into Mexico, where it empties into the Gulf of California.

The report is online at protectflows.com.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - AZ