• Water quality and levels of Colorado River endangered
    Many industries are reliant on the river, which also provides drinking water to thousands

Water/Wastewater

Water quality and levels of Colorado River endangered

Jul 19 2013

Recent drought and wildfires could be endangering the water quality of the Colorado River in the US. The Senate Water and Power Subcommittee has discussed the levels of supply for water from the river and whether the water quality remains suitable to meet the needs of the environment and the local economy.

The Colorado River is one of the most important natural resources in the US and provides water to a large area throughout the country. However, a study published in December 2012 suggested that the current water levels of the river are not adequate to meet the current demands of the water basin and will not be enough to support future demand. Climate change has had a dramatic effect on the levels of water in the river and could have more of a negative effect as the effects of climate change become wider spread.

Some reports have found that the level of the Colorado River could be depleted around nine per cent if the current effects of climate change continue to worsen. However, some independent reports have suggested that the amount of water lost could be more detrimental. As the water levels decrease there is a risk that water quality could lower, which could also affect the amount of water available to support industry and the environment - especially as the temperatures increase.

Matt Niemerski, water policy director at American Rivers, said: "This study serves as a call to action and underscores the importance of prioritising innovative conservation solutions rather than resorting to costly pipelines, dams and other diversions. We need to step up our efforts and manage our water wisely in order to meet the current and future needs in the basin."

The river is used to irrigate almost four million acres of land across the US, producing around 15 per cent of the food crops for the country. It is also used as a source of drinking water by around 36 million people. The increase in demand as a result of recent drought weather has already put a strain on the amount of water the river needs to provide. Not only is this risking damaging the wildlife and food supplies, but it could also result in losses to the multi-billion dollar recreation industry that relies upon the river.  


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