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Four-state Launch for Latino Effort to Save Colorado River

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Friday, April 13, 2012   

PHOENIX – A new advocacy group is raising concerns about the growing imbalance of water use and supply from the Colorado River. Made up of of 13,000 Latinos in Southwestern states, Nuestro Rio (Spanish for "our river") supports actions to sustain the river's flow.

Its Arizona coordinator, Sal Rivera, suggests a variety of what he calls "practical" measures, including water banking, agricultural efficiency and urban conservation.

"I can't remember how many hundreds of thousands of pools we have in Phoenix, but the simple use of pool covers would prevent the large amounts of evaporation. You know, use of more efficient irrigation techniques and watering techniques; using appropriate plants."

Nuestro Rio held kickoff events Thursday in four Southwestern states, emphasizing historical connections between the Latino community and the river. Rivera says many people don't realize how crucial a healthy Colorado River is to the region's economy.

"Eighty-five percent of all the irrigated agriculture acreage in Arizona is fed by the Colorado River. Six-point-six million Arizonans drink their water from the Colorado River. The river supports at least 82,000 jobs, just in Arizona."

Latinos have a special connection to this river, adds Rivera, as part of their history in the Southwestern states.

"Something as simple as Cesar Chavez, who was born in Yuma and died in San Luis, near the river basin. Some of the first Spanish explorers that came up and explored up through the Colorado River. The fact that our community for so long has been involved in the agricultural industry."

A highlight of the four events was the public debut of a new corrido or ballad, remembering Cesar Chavez and urging policies that promote a healthy Colorado River for future generations.



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