(Oct. 2) – Reps. Leroy Garcia (D-Pueblo) and Joe Salazar (D-Thornton) joined students and other state elected officials from western states who traveled to Washington this week to meet with members of Congress and Administration officials to deliver a message from Latinos across the Southwest: Save the Colorado River.
Students from Nuestro Río, a network of 21,000 Latinos in the Southwest dedicated to wise use of the Colorado River, joined forces with western local elected officials from the newly formed Regional Water Caucus of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute to advocate for improved urban water conservation and agricultural efficiency in the Colorado Basin, which includes parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California, as well as Baja California Norte and Sonora.
The combined delegation met with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, and Reps. Garcia and Salazar met with both of Colorado’s U.S. senators and six of its seven U.S. representatives.
“We’re trying to spread the word that the Colorado River is in trouble,” Rep. Garcia said. “If we don’t conserve, we’re courting disaster.”
The Colorado River provides water to 35 million people and grows 15 percent of the nation’s crops. But demand for the river’s water already exceeds supply, and development is expected to increase this pressure while climate change reduces the amount of water in the basin by up to 30 percent by 2050.
“This goes beyond environmental concerns – it becomes a cultural issue,” Rep. Salazar said. “Our Hispanic heritage and the Colorado River are deeply intertwined.”