Outdated Management, Drought Threaten Colorado River, Report Says

Drought, mismanagement, and over-exploitation of its waters have made the Colorado River — the lifeblood of the arid Southwest and drinking water source for 36 million people — among the most vulnerable rivers in the U.S., according to the group American Rivers. In its annual report on “America’s Most Endangered Rivers,” the organization placed the 1,400-mile Colorado at the top of the list of threatened rivers, saying the iconic river “is so dammed, diverted, and drained that it dries to a trickle before reaching the sea.” Proposals to remove more than 300,000 acre-feet of new water from the river and its tributaries, coupled with a projected reduction in its flow of 10 to 30 percent because of global warming, will add further stress to the Colorado system. According to the report, outdated water management systems also threaten the Flint River in Georgia, the San Saba River in Texas, and the Little Plover River in Wisconsin. In the U.S. Southeast, storage ponds for coal ash pose a threat to the Catawba River, a major source of drinking water for parts of North Carolina and South Carolina.