As Colorado River Dries Up, The West Feels The Pain

Fifty miles south of the U.S.- Mexico border, the Colorado River Delta and its once-rich estuary wetlands --€” reduced by 95 percent since the river was restricted by dams --€” are now as parched as the surrounding Sonoran Desert. i i

hide captionFifty miles south of the U.S.- Mexico border, the Colorado River Delta and its once-rich estuary wetlands —€” reduced by 95 percent since the river was restricted by dams —€” are now as parched as the surrounding Sonoran Desert.

Peter McBride
Fifty miles south of the U.S.- Mexico border, the Colorado River Delta and its once-rich estuary wetlands --€” reduced by 95 percent since the river was restricted by dams --€” are now as parched as the surrounding Sonoran Desert.

Fifty miles south of the U.S.- Mexico border, the Colorado River Delta and its once-rich estuary wetlands —€” reduced by 95 percent since the river was restricted by dams —€” are now as parched as the surrounding Sonoran Desert.

Peter McBride

The Colorado River touches the lives of Americans coast to coast. The river begins in the Rocky Mountains and flows into Mexico's Sea of Cortez. Along the way, it feeds over a dozen tributaries across the American Southwest.

Many in the West rely on the Colorado for drinking water, and farmers depend on it to irrigate millions of acres of farmland. And if you've ever felt the cool relief of air conditioning in Las Vegas, there's a good chance the electricity was provided by the "mighty Colorado."

But the river is drying up. As it does, those who rely on it for farming, cattle ranching, fishing and tourism fear economic disaster.

Sandra Postel, director of the Global Water Policy Project, and photographer and writer Peter McBride join host Neal Conan in a special broadcast from Aspen, Colo., to explain the importance of the Colorado River, why it's in peril and what is being done to help protect it.

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