Living Rivers - Colorado Riverkeeper
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Mobilizing people to protect rivers.

Living Rivers Campaigns
The End of Lake Powell
The End of Lake Powell
Save Grand Canyon
Save Grand Canyon

Our Approach

For decades, writers, scientists, engineers and environmentalists have documented how economic interests and political alliances overshadowed rational watershed planning in the West. As predicted, our vast plumbing systems of dams and diversions are not only causing significant environmental damage, but are having difficulty meeting increasing demands for water. Each summer, more and more stories make national headlines: rivers running dry, environmentalists battling farmers, not enough water to go around. Brokered solutions provide temporary patches, but the disease continues to fester.

The major problem? These systems, and the agencies that control them, are built on a culture of waste, not conservation. Their missions are not how to balance human water needs with preserving the natural integrity of river ecosystems, but to squeeze out as much water as possible to service their customer base.

When agencies do implement conservation strategies, it's to provide water for additional users, not address the inefficiencies upon which the system is built, nor to address the environmental damage caused by waste. Agencies that might consider leaving water in rivers will do so only if the public water that they receive at a subsidy is purchased back from them by the public-at a premium. Remedies seldom gain momentum because they lack the broad popular support necessary to overcome the historic political inertia that has aided in maintaining the status quo. That is, until now.

From its first public event in March, 2000, Living Rivers (formerly Glen Canyon Action Network) has taken the lead to initiate a new approach to watershed advocacy in the West. With a series of restoration initiatives and organizing efforts in both the Colorado and Rio Grande River watersheds, Living Rivers has begun building a popular movement to promote strategies for large-scale river restoration. From the ejidos communities in Mexico, through Indian reservations, farming towns and into metropolitan areas, Living Rivers is engaging people to pressure water agencies to embrace the simple solutions that offer opportunities for restoring our rivers and improving quality of life for millions of people across this arid region.

These effective solutions are readily available but not well-publicized. They involve municipal water conservation, recycling and reuse strategies, increased irrigation efficiency, changes in cropping patterns, and a better understanding of the extensive ecological damage caused by hydroelectric power generation-and the conservation and efficiency technologies currently available to replace it. These solutions are not technically difficult, nor do significant legal obstacles to their implementation exist. These practical, off-the-shelf approaches are economically beneficial and can be implemented immediately. They are, however, politically unpopular with the narrow special interests and institutions that have dominated Western water and power development and planning for more than a century.

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Last Update: September 17, 2004

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Living Rivers    PO Box 466     Moab, UT 84532     435.259.1063