‘We wouldn’t be in business without water in the #ColoradoRiver’ — George Wendt

Cataract Canyon
Cataract Canyon

From Canoe and Kayak (Eugene Buchanan):

What was OARS founder and president George Wendt doing on the 38th floor of Denver’s Grand Hyatt the day after the government shutdown ended, and his company was scrambling to resume raft trips on the Grand Canyon and other closed waterways? He was doing his part to ensure something even more important than river access … water.

Wendt was a panelist at the first ever Business of Water summit, hosted by nonprofit Protect the Flows, a group of nearly 1,000 businesses focused on the issue of water sustainability and responsible water consumption policies. On hand to hear keynote talks from the likes of U.S. Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) were representatives from utility companies, outfitters, marina operators and more than 35 corporations, including PepsiCo, AT&T, MGM Resorts International and New Belgium Brewing Co. sharing practices aimed at sustainable water management…

The Colorado River was recently named the most endangered river in America. Participating businesses, said Protect the Flows co-director Craig Mackey, have a vital stake in solutions to best manage the river’s widening supply and demand gap.

“The purpose of the summit is threefold,” he said. “It’s to build a forum for business leaders to network and engage on water sustainability, share business best practices, case studies and tools to promote water efficiency and conservation, and create a strong business voice and platform to advance water policy to incentivize water innovation, efficiency and conservation.”

The Colorado River, he added, is a major economic driver which, if it were a company, would rank at number 155 on Fortune 500 list, ahead of General Mills, and be the country’s 19th largest employer. It supports nearly 250,000 jobs in six states, produces $26 billion in economic output, contributes $3.2 billion in annual taxes and creates $10.4 billion in annual earnings, salaries and wages. The recently completed Colorado River Basin Study shows that water conservation efforts can yield at least 3 million acre feet of water and is the most cost-effective and easily implementable way to bring water supply and demand on the Colorado back into balance…

“We wouldn’t be in business without water in the Colorado River,” adds Wendt, echoing the sentiments of all of those in attendance.

More Colorado River coverage here and here.

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