The Colorado River Basin
The Colorado River and its man-made reservoirs from
the Rockies to southern Arizona are being sapped by
14 years of drought nearly unrivaled in 1,250 years.
The Colorado River flows 1400 miles from the mountains
of central Colorado to the Mexican border and eventually
to the Gulf of California.
Colorado River Basin Map
Sources of Precipitation
During the past 50 years this once free flowing river
has been tamed by a gigantic plumbing system
Today, this domesticated river is enjoyed
15 million people a year.
The period 1905-1922, which was used to estimate water
production allocated under the Colorado River Compact,
had the highest long-term annual flow volume in the 20th
century, averaging 16.1 MAF at Lee’s Ferry.
Three major problems are associated with use of this
- the Colorado River basin includes some of the driest lands in the US.
- Legal pacts in 1922 and 1944 allocate more water to the states in the river's upper basin (Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico) and lower basin (Arizona, Nevada and California) and to Mexico, than now flows through the river, even in years without a drought.
- because of so many withdrawals, the river rarely makes it to the Gulf of California.
Raise the River: Reconnect the Colorado
Raise the River vs. Move the Ocean. Full Story.
Glen Canyon Dam
Glen Canyon Dam was completed in 1966 to provide hydroelectricity and flow regulation.
Its reservoir is called Lake Powell and is the second largest artificial lake in the US.
Glen Canyon Dam Map
Glen Canyon Dam
Lake Powell, Glen Canyon Dam
"Bathtub Ring" white mineral deposits
Lake Powell Drought Conditions animation
Fastest growing city in US the past 40 years.
Cities such as Las Vegas are running out of water and are looking for new sources to allow growth.
90% of Las Vegas' water comes from the Colorado River via Lake Mead.
Las Vegas has been the fastest growing metropolitan area in the US the past 30 years.
Las Vegas water czar Pat Mulroy stated in an interview on 4/11/11,
"The point I was making today is that we
have run out of options. We have run out
of time to wring our hands about it and try
to delay it. If we do that we are putting our
own families and our own security in jeopardy."
Some are advocating drawing groundwater from rural Nevada.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority proposes to build a 285 mile pipeline to haul groundwater from eastern Nevada.
The $2 billion project would mean sinking up to 195 wells as deep as 1700 feet to bring as much as 50 billion gallons of water a year to Las Vegas.
Scientists predict pumping rates will greatly exceed recharge rates.
Pat Mulroy is also promoting recycling treated wastewater back into the Colorado River to be reused.
Las Vegas Urban Growth (Google Images 1, 2, 3) (growth video)