Yesterday as I was trying to navigate the streets south of Denver during our daily thunderstorm dousing I had a chance to listed to Michelle Norris’ interview with Peter McBride. They talked about the river, its current state, and attitudes about using the river’s available water while protecting some of its wildness and natural historical value. Here’s the link to the NPR story with the audio. Here’s the transcript Here’s an excerpt:
“This estuary [ed. the Colorado River estuary] used to be one of the largest desert estuaries in North America,” McBride says. “It ran to the sea for 6 million years, and the river basically stopped in the late ’90s. It used to be 3,000 square miles with lush forests and jaguars and deer. And having walked it … it’s nothing but a cracked, parched arid landscape.”
How did this happen? As McBride puts it, too many straws in the water: Near Mexico, the river basically produces the entire lettuce crop for the United States in the months of November and December, and all of the nation’s carrots in January and February. “So whether you love the river and fish it and float it, or you’ve never been to it and you live on the East Coast, you actually eat Colorado River water,” McBride continues.
When I got home I made sure to raise a glass of Denver Water water and toast the headwaters.
More Colorado River basin coverage here.