New push to shore up shrinking Colorado River could reduce water flow to California
A group of water enthusiasts met in Sacramento on Friday to call for federal help to ensure more water gets to California in future, as the Army Corps of Engineers announced a new push to cut through the Colorado River for decades to come.
“We are at an impasse, basically,” said Mark Cowin, a senior environmental organizer with Water Defense Coalition. “This is going to be a fight.”
The new effort would cost about $90 million to install more dams and other water-related infrastructure, Cowin said, but Cowin and others involved with Water Defense Coalition have long had concerns about the Army Corps’ plans to reduce the size of the Colorado River Basin to restore the river’s flow.
The group, including Cowin, began gathering signatures on a petition in 2014 asking the Army Corps to suspend its plans to cut through a portion of the river. A national report issued by the Army Corps in February said that by the year 2035, water managers in the Colorado River Basin could only use 60 percent of all the water that can be used today, and that by 2060 that percentage would drop to 45 percent.
The group said it will continue to push for federal help to bolster water delivery to California — despite what the Army Corps now says.
“A large and growing number of people are concerned that they are going to have to choose between their water supply and a livable climate in their homes,” said Tom Collier of the Center for Western Priorities. “And I think these kind of water-based solutions are the only long-term approach that’s on the table.”
Water Districts, farmers and ranchers, and cities are concerned about what this could mean for the water used in the basin, but not enough to take action, Collier said.
The Army Corps plans to release its new plan for water use in the next few months.
On Friday, members of the local water advocacy group and members of