This short video includes excerpted scenes from a documentary film in progress. What's At Stake is about Western Colorado's streams and rivers. The clips included here only briefly touch on the scope of the film.
I hope these images will inspire the viewer to educate themselves about our complex water issues and to take action by joining others in the necessary and heroic effort to preserve our state's water resources.
Western Colorado's rivers are being diverted from their stream beds. This is a bleak scenario for the riparian zones along these rivers; the 1% of Colorado's open space that 90% of our insect and animal species rely on for nourishment and habitat. As we enter a drought cycle, it is critical that we recognize the fragility of Colorado's most prized resource.
The larger share of diverted water crosses the continental divide through a network of dams, tunnels and canals. It is used to grow cities on the eastern slope. While much needed water conservation programs are being introduced in Eastern Colorado cities, water interests have begun massive projects to increase their capacity to divert and store water from Western rivers.
On the Western slope, oil shale and gas interests have designs on diverting (and polluting) huge volumes of water for extraction processes. All of the people of Colorado will lose out if we all do not learn to respect and protect our rivers.
Under Colorado water law, virtually all human uses for the rivers have priority and rights to the water before the health of the river and its natural inhabitants are considered. In effect, we are destroying our own ecosystem, which depends on healthy river levels.
Several river ecosystems, including the once mighty Colorado river will flatline and die ecologically unless we as people of the State of Colorado come to our senses, revisit and change archaic Colorado Water Laws and work to protect healthy water levels in our streams. According to many experts, established "minimum" stream levels are not enough to maintain health.
The video clips just scratch the surface of what's actually at stake, but they may remind you of what we have to lose.
Whether you live in Eastern Colorado, Western Colorado or elsewhere, please join the growing campaign to educate the public about the importance of protecting our rivers. We all live downstream.