Colorado River named most endangered in America - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Colorado River named most endangered in America

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PHOENIX (CBS5/AP) -

The Colorado River runs roughly 1,500 miles in length, the majority of it running through Arizona. Unfortunately, it now has the distinction of being the most endangered river in America for 2013.

The advocacy group American Rivers says population growth, drought and climate change could reduce available water in the Colorado River anywhere from 9 to 20 percent over the next 30 years. It's not good news for folks who live near, recreate or depend on the river.

"They should absolutely be worried. The numbers are not good. The Bureau of Reclamation study shows that the current trends are unsustainable," said Matt Niemerski, director of Western water policy with American Rivers.

The river is said to be the lifeline of the Southwest. About 36 million people depend on it for drinking water. Almost 4 million acres of land are irrigated by the river, which in turn grows 15 percent of the nation's crops. Millions of tourists use the river for various forms of recreation, totaling $26 million in recreation economy.

"Whether it's agriculture, whether it's municipalities and water management agencies, whether it's individual citizens, businesses, conservation organizations. It's time for everybody to start to sit down at the table and try to figure out what solutions we can bring forward," said Niemerski.

American Rivers hopes citizens will ask Congress to support funding of critical programs that address sustainable water supply in the Colorado River Basin and across the West.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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