With the simple rallying cry "1 percent for the delta," environmentalists hope to overcome the complexities of Colorado River politics and send some water to the river's dying delta in Mexico (HCN, 7/3/00: A river resurrected: The Colorado River Delta gets a second chance). On March 5, 120 groups led by the Glen Canyon Action Network launched their nine-day, five-state Sustainable Water Project Tour in Salt Lake City.
Accompanied by an empty water truck with "Revive the Colorado" emblazoned on one side, the tour stopped in five major Southwestern cities. The coalition asked state and federal agencies responsible for managing the river to adopt basic conservation measures. They also asked Southwestern residents to send 1 percent of their water supply downstream. One percent of the Colorado's historic flow is 150,000 acre-feet, enough to start restoring the 2 million acres of wetlands that once existed in the delta region.
Though that water isn't likely to reach the delta anytime soon, activists emphasize that relatively modest measures could make a big difference. "If all we did was take 38,000 acres of alfalfa and transfer it to higher-yield citrus crops, we would begin the restoration process," Owen Lammers, executive director of the Glen Canyon Action Network, told the crowd of about three dozen who gathered in front of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's regional office in Salt Lake.
The coalition chose to launch its tour in Salt Lake City in part because of Utah's legendary thirst - the state ranks second in the nation in per capita water use. The tour also made stops in Albuquerque, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Blythe, Calif., before ending in Los Angeles on the Fourth International Day of Action Against Dams.