Western rivers are thriving even in the face of climate change. These critical waterways are protected to support ecosystems, local communities, and world-class recreation. Water is conserved and key river reaches are revitalized and managed to support healthy river ecology, sustainable water use, and resilience to climate change.
WRA develops, advocates for, and implements policies, programs and river management that saves water and protects rivers through improving stream flow, reducing water use, and improved water planning.
Reduce Water Demand
Water conservation is a vital part of ensuring reliable water supplies across the West.
Solutions that help the West conserve water and reduce water waste are the cheapest, fastest, and most reliable way to secure our water supplies and protect the health of rivers and lakes.
Increasing demands on our region’s limited water supplies are more intense than ever as the region’s population continues to grow and climate change creates a more arid and dry future. Diverting even more water from already-stressed rivers and streams and groundwater — at great cost to taxpayers and the environment — is no longer sustainable.
Water conservation measures are as reliable as new dams, diversion structures, and pipelines, and are typically faster and cheaper to implement than these large structural projects. From implementing water reuse systems to growing smart from the start with water-efficient homes and businesses, there’s a lot we can all do to use water more wisely without removing even more water from rivers and lakes.
Through our research and advocacy, we’re helping communities and water utilities adopt smart water conservation solutions that reduce the need for large new dams and pipelines and ultimately protect our healthy, flowing rivers now and for future generations.
Ensure Strong Governance
The Colorado River is an iconic symbol of the American West and the people who live here.
It is responsible for carving our region’s scenic canyons, supports world-renowned wildlife, and has sustained Indigenous communities for millennia. But in the face of climate change and growing demands, the face of the river is changing right before our eyes and will soon become unrecognizable. Now is the time for aggressive conservation and protection of the Colorado River. The Colorado River provides drinking water to over 40 million people, irrigates over 5.5 million acres of farmland, is home to 30 Indigenous communities, supports a $75 billion recreation economy, and sustains 30 endemic fish species and critical river habitat for the millions of birds using the Pacific Flyway.
Communities in seven states, and northern Mexico, all depend on the Colorado River for water, but collective demands on the river now surpass what the river basin naturally provides. Impacts from the climate crisis are only adding to the pressure on the river and the life it supports. The many threats the Colorado River faces make it one of America’s most endangered rivers. We’ve identified common sense steps that will keep the Colorado River flowing and improve climate resilience to better manage future water shortages.
Keep Water in Rivers
Climate change and increasing water demands are threatening to dry up Western rivers.
A healthy river provides clean drinking water, replenishes groundwater supplies, supports abundant fish and wildlife, and offers world-class recreational opportunities that boost local economies. We need innovative approaches to keep water in rivers and lakes. Old approaches, like lengthy pipelines, costly infrastructure projects, and unregulated water use got us where we are today, with demand outpacing supply and rivers getting hammered.
Reduced water levels in rivers and lakes can cause:
- A loss of wetlands, which are essential ecosystems supporting clean water, flood mitigation and habitat.
- The spread of algae blooms and invasive species, such as tamarisk and predator fish.
- A decline in the abundance of native fish and wildlife
- Reduced recreational opportunities and the local and state economies they support
- Increased water pollution and costs of treatment.
We’re working to keep water in rivers and lakes by helping states and local communities identify and implement measures to protect and improve river flows for the health of the environment and river recreation that supports vibrant local economies.