COLORADO RIVER DAY 2014 Unites Local Groups in CO, AZ, NM, NV Western City Events; Common Conservation Goal to Keep Colorado River System Healthy and Flowing

For Immediate Release: July 25, 2014

CONTACT:

Jennie Peek-Dunstone, 970-301-1529jennie@alpinepublicaffairs.com

"One Basin, 7 States, Local Solutions” Theme for Colorado River Day 2014

Unites Municipal, Business, Ag, Conservation Leaders across the West

 

Denver, CO -- Today’s Colorado River Day celebrations, taking place in Denver, CO, Flagstaff, AZ, Silver City, NM and Las Vegas, NV on the river’s 93rd birthday, honor the waterway that serves as the backbone of the West’s economy and a critical drinking source for millions.

In its third year, the events focus on the full spectrum of cities and local communities in the 7-state basin addressing water challenges in their respective regions and states, working in collaboration to solve basin-wide challenges.  Their combined efforts are aimed at connecting all “pieces of the puzzle”, collectively resulting in a healthy flowing Colorado River system that powers the Western outdoor recreation economy, provides ample water for agriculture and satisfies the needs of municipalities and consumers across the basin.

“Today, representatives from local and regional groups are coming together in a unified movement to work together as a community of seven states sharing this vital resource,” said Colorado River Day 2014 Coordinator Jennie Peek-Dunstone.   “Dedicated civic, business and conservation organizations are all offering local solutions across the entire basin that will most efficiently resolve the predicted basin-wide gap in water supply and demand.” 

According to the Department of Interior’s Colorado River Basin Study completed in December 2012, 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. The groups organizing Colorado River Day -- National Young Farmers Coalition, Save the Colorado, Protect the Flows, and Nuestro Río -- are asking federal and state officials for an actionable plan based on local conservation solutions to improve conservation and river flow.

Today’s Denver event features Nuestro Río, Conservation Colorado and One World One Water Center in a panel discussion focusing on the state water plan under development.  In Flagstaff, Nuestro Río and Coconino County Supervisor Liz Archuleta lead a breakfast roundtable on Arizona’s water conservation issues featuring Sen. Jeff Flake’s AZ Director Clint Chandler, and Doug Dunham from the Arizona Department of Water Resources.  Nuestro Río’s Robert Apodaca, members of the Nuestro Río Youth Leadership Program and Bishop Cantu, Diocese of Las Cruces head up an afternoon of activities in Silver City with government leaders and community partners with a focus on protecting the Gila River.  And in Las Vegas, Master of Ceremonies State Senator Ruben Kihuen and key note speaker Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz lead a discussion on the water challenges facing Southern Nevada.

Also in Colorado, representatives from New Belgium Brewery and Save the Colorado will deliver 1,250 coast cards today (please see attached) to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper's office that encourage him to support water conservation as a key step in securing the state’s future water needs, and 40 elected officials across the state signed a pledge encouraging the Governor to make local conservation solutions a part of Colorado’s water plan currently in development.

Colorado River Day brings people together across divides in support of maintaining a sustainable Colorado River. Last year, urban and rural interests came together in support of the river. In 2012 progressives and conservatives spoke out in concert.  This year, local interests unite to support basin-wide solutions. It takes place on July 25th each year, as this was the day in 1921 when Congress re-named the river from the “Grand” to the “Colorado”. It is produced by a wide coalition of organizations including National Young Farmers Union, Save the Colorado, Protect the Flows and Nuestro Río.

For more detailed information on the agenda at each event today, please visit www.ColoradoRiverDay.com

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BACKGROUND

The over-tasked Colorado River system runs through seven states (AZ, CA, CO, NM, NV, UT, WY) and supplies drinking water for some 40 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.

COLORADO - Denver and many other Colorado cities rely on the river for drinking water.  About 61% of irrigated agriculture acreage in Colorado depends on the Colorado River. Recreation on the river and its tributaries results in nearly $10 billion in economic output annually and supports nearly 80,000 jobs in the state.

ARIZONA - In Arizona, the vast majority of the state depends on the Colorado River for drinking water, and 85% of Arizona’s irrigated agricultural land depends on the river.  Recreation on the Colorado River system in Arizona results in nearly $6 billion in economic output annually and supports nearly 54,000 jobs in the state.

NEW MEXICO - The Animas, La Plata, Mancos, Navajo and San Juan rivers are all Colorado River tributaries that flow through New Mexico. Over one million New Mexicans depend on the Colorado River system for drinking water, and the San Juan River irrigates 100,000 acres of farm land in the state. Recreation on Colorado River tributaries in New Mexico results in nearly $1.7 billion in total economic output annually and supports over 17,000 jobs in the state.

SOUTHERN NEVADA - The Colorado River is the primary source of drinking water for residents of Southern Nevada.  The river is also the primary source for irrigation water for the region’s small agricultural industry and, more significantly, the primary irrigation source for the states who share the river with Nevada.  Recreation on the Colorado River and the reservoir it fills, Lake Mead, results in over $2.8 billion in economic output annually and supports over 25,000 jobs in the state.