Thursday, September 15, 2011

The land use to be dry and barren with no hopes of survival

The Colorado River from Laughlin
The Colorado River from Laughlin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Environmental Issues: Colorado River

The area that the Colorado River runs through is the driest in the nation. These deserts are drier than some of those found in North Africa. Thanks to major agricultural changes in this area, now tens of millions of people can now reside on this land. Utilizing the Colorado River, which gets a significant amount of water from the Rocky Mountains when the snow melts, can now permit this dry desert to be a thriving community, compared to the “inhospitable land” that it once was (Sierra Club).
The land use to be dry and barren with no hopes of survival for any creature that required water to thrive or even live. The land was so dry that it was essentially a waste of valuable acreage. Now that the Colorado River is able to have water diverted into this area, it is an area that can be utilized for agriculture, communities, and thriving families and companies. Essentially, the “Colorado River has become a plumbing system” (Sierra Club). As a result of this plumbing system, crops such as cotton, alfalfa, fruits, and vegetables can be grown here. However, these changes come at a price.
The changing of the natural flow of the Colorado River has had detrimental effects on the river and the area around the Colorado River Basin. This basin provides water around the entire southwest US. Not only are most of the endangered native fish now endangered, but all major bird migration stopping points have severely devastated by the changes in the functions of the river. The largest human impact of the changes in the Colorado River is the result of over allocated water supplies. Since there are now so many people reliant on this water source, it is no longer a viable, long term solution to the drought that is naturally common in this area.
The California 4.4 plan is a plan that is currently being developed. The point of this plan is for California to reduce its usage of the water from the Colorado River to only the 4.4 million acre-feet allotment. The only way that this plan will work is if the state of California prohibits any additional additions to this water source in order to sustain the amount of water available to this particular area. This is a very concrete, cut and dry plan. It seems a little unfeasible because many people are wishing to move and/or build in this area and having a stringent rule like the California 4.4 plan makes it difficult for people to maintain. The plan is viable if the California state government implements strict guidelines that regulate the plan that is mean to assist in sustaining the Colorado River basin for a length time.

Sierra Club. “Colorado River Report.” Feb. 2001. Accessed: 8/8/10. Internet:
Withgott, Jay & Scott Brennan. Essential Environment: 3rd Ed. Pearson Custom
Publishing: San Francisco, 2009.

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