Here’s a guest commentary written by Nita Gonzales running in The Denver Post. Here’s an excerpt:
Stretching all the way to Mexico, the Colorado River also supports businesses and industries. It provides the water for more than 3 million acres of farmland, and it serves 36 million people, providing drinking water as well as recreational activities and jobs.
Even our Latino heritage and culture is tied to the river. Historically, Latinos in the Southwest developed a complex system of acequias (irrigation canals) that provided water to farms. Today, the acequia culture of southern Colorado continues as farmers use those canals to irrigate their crops, just as their ancestors have done for generations.
Latinos, like many others in the Southwest, are concerned about preserving the ecosystems of the Colorado River as we continue to rely daily upon its water in our schools, industries, and homes. A recent poll released by Nuestro Rio revealed that nearly 75 percent of Colorado Latinos believe that it is very important “that the government help protect our community’s rivers and lakes for family recreation and the overall well-being of the environment.” Eighty-four percent of Latino voters favor conservation, encouraging the government to prioritize efficiency when developing policies to address water shortages.
The Colorado River is integral to the economic and physical health of our state and region — and even the nation. The huge burden that the river bears — supplying water to the seven states in the Colorado River basin and Mexico — has taken a hefty toll. Storage of Colorado River water has decreased 40 percent over the last 13 years. Currently, people are using more water than what the river can provide. The Bureau of Reclamation of the U.S. Department of the Interior estimates that this imbalance will significantly grow in the years to come if nothing is done about it.
If no action is taken, plans to divert more water may push some reaches of the river to the brink of ecological collapse.