Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts A brief history of interdependencies and water on the Colorado plateau

A brief history of interdependencies and water on the Colorado plateau

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Abstract

Over 40 million people in the U.S. Southwest depend on water from the Colorado River. Seven States, Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, have rights to the river. For millions of years, it has carved its way from high in the western Rocky Mountains south and west, skirting the borders of California, Nevada, and Arizona before giving its water to a delta in Mexico. It rarely makes it to the Gulf of California, its original terminus. The Colorado Plateau encompasses over 150,000 square miles. The plateau includes geologic wonders like the Grand Canyon, Black Canyon of the Gunnison River, Canyon de Chelly on the Navajo Reservation, Canyonlands, Arches, and Rainbow Bridge, among others. The authors recommend that we turn to the past and include the perspectives of diverse communities, who have ties to the region and its waters going back centuries to avoid a water shortage in the future.

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