Arizona “River of the Month” Series Launched to Celebrate State’s 100th Year

March 30, 2012

Jocelyn Gibbon, (602) 510-4619-c,
Steve Pawlowski, (602) 254-9330,
Nikolai Lash, (928) 266-5606,
Ian Wilson, (520) 290-0828, x.1106,
Linda Stitzer, (520) 488-2436,

(Phoenix, Ariz.—March 30, 2012) Five conservation groups today honored the Colorado River as their first “River of the Month” to launch a year-long series celebrating Arizona’s 100th year as a state.  The Colorado, often called the “lifeblood of the West” because it drains areas of seven U.S. and two Mexican states “has shaped nearly every aspect of Arizona’s history,” said the groups, including Environmental Defense Fund, Sierra Club, Grand Canyon Trust, Sonoran Institute, and Western Resource Advocates.   

The “River of the Month” series by the five conservation groups will feature fact sheets with graphics and photos profiling the geography, ecology, use, and threats to a different river every month for the next year to celebrate the state’s precious natural resources. “From the mighty Colorado to the smallest ephemeral streams, these waterways have supported Arizona’s people and places for thousands of years,” said the groups in the “Celebrating Arizona’s Rivers” introduction.  “With good stewardship and thoughtful planning, they will continue to flow into Arizona’s next 100 years.”

“The Colorado has enabled the development that has shaped the Arizona we enjoy today,” the Colorado River fact sheet notes.  “Although much of its water is diverted for urban and agricultural use, the river also nourishes vital habitat for diverse plant and animal species and is a place for recreation and refuge for many Arizona residents. Since Arizona lies almost entirely within the Lower Colorado River Basin, nearly all of the state’s waterways – from the largest rivers to the smallest perennial streams – eventually flow to the Colorado.”

“While 40% of Arizona’s water supply comes from the Colorado, more water is already removed [by the seven U.S. and two Mexican states collectively] from the river system and its reservoirs than is replenished in an average year,” the fact sheet adds.  “As increased demand is placed on the Colorado’s diminishing supply, the challenge will be to meet water needs while maintaining healthy river flows and the Basin’s rich ecology, recognizing that ultimately, human well-being is deeply connected to the health of rivers and the landscapes and communities they support.”

“The Colorado no longer reaches the sea; however, plans are underway to restore the Colorado River Delta, which once supported 3,000 square miles of wetland habitat,” the fact sheet concludes. “Similar projects are being undertaken throughout the Basin, including habitat conservation plans to protect endangered species and experimental flow management at Glen Canyon Dam to imitate pre-dam seasonal flooding. These efforts can ensure that the Colorado River will remain the lifeblood of the region’s landscapes, both urban and natural, and one of Arizona’s most defining and splendid natural features, for many years to come.”