A new list names the Upper Colorado River basin the second most endangered stretch of water in the country. The conservation group American Rivers released its annual “top-10” list Wednesday and local rivers like the Roaring Fork and Frying Pan are part of basin that’s threatened.
"All of these rivers have potential targets on them for more diversions," says Ken Neubecker, a coordinator for American Rivers.
He says the Upper Colorado Basin includes seven rivers besides the main-stem of the Colorado, itself.
The basin made the list because new transmountain diversions are under consideration as the state searches for ways to meet a water gap in the future. To serve a growing population, Colorado needs to find an extra 500,000 acre feet of water each year, by 2050. One acre foot of water per year is roughly enough for two to three families.
Neubecker says Front Range communities are desperately looking for new water supplies and that could come from the upper Colorado and its tributaries. He says the listing raises public awareness.
"There are an awful lot of people, especially on the Front Range, who have no idea where their water comes from. It’s getting better than it used to be. But, there are still a lot of people who don’t understand that every time they run their faucet, they’re draining the Colorado River system."
One other river in the state made the list: the White River in northwestern Colorado. According to the list, it’s main threat is oil and gas drilling.