For those who say the American Southwest is up a creek without a paddle in terms of the future water supplies in the Colorado River Basin, they can take comfort in the fact that at least Interior Secretary Ken Salazar now has one.
American Whitewater and the Colorado River Outfitters Association presented the former Colorado senator with an engraved paddle in his office in Washington today, honoring Salazar for his efforts to bring all the stakeholders along the river together and try to ease future conflicts.
“We need to find a way to balance the little water we have to meet the needs of people, recreation and the fish that depend on the river,” said CROA’s Dave Costlow. “It’s all about finding the right balance and, as the Secretary says, choosing ‘consensus over controversy.’”
The message engraved on the paddle is “Thanks for navigating the process of balancing the needs of fish, wildlife and people.”
The seven states in the basin and the Interior Department are engaged in the Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study, which predicts water supplies in the basin could drop by as much as 20 percent by mid-century due to growing demand and climate change.
“The strain of decreased supply and increased demand doesn’t have to force a false choice between letting the Colorado become a trickle or denying people the water they need to consume,” said Nathan Fey, director of American Whitewater’s Colorado Stewardship Program. “We believe Secretary Salazar will continue to apply innovation and common sense to finding a way to keep a healthy amount of water in the Colorado River.”