Thursday, January 14, 2010

last lost canyon

Along the entire length of the eastern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, there is only one remaining undeveloped river canyon without a paved road. One! The existing dirt road is little more than a wagon track wandering beneath giant cottonwood trees back and forth across the river, in and out of pastures, across rapids and under dark holes full of trout. The canyon remains untouched because all the people who own the land along the river have worked to keep it that way. It's taken a lot of quiet coalition meetings and loud lawyers. And it's taken faith, faith that conservation easements will hold and that water rights won't be sold.

On both sides of the Continental Divide here in Colorado, we know that snowmelt becomes lifeblood. We know our water will float Mississippi barges down to the Gulf and push the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, if only to get strangled by Hoover Dam and gambled away by Las Vegas until it eventually dries up somewhere out in a California lettuce field. Sadly, we also know it's only a matter of time before this last canyon and our river gets dammed up to support the flagrant development of Denver and its insane demand for water.

Meanwhile, multinational corporations are buying up as many sources of potable water as they can. If you squint, you'll see a tiny "Nestle" on almost all of the bottled water in the world. We'll probably run out of water before we run out of gas. Pay attention, folks; water is the new oil.

4 comments:

loriann said...

Good point Sam. Water is the next oil. It's sad.

brian eppley said...

This is true. I can recommend one thing. My parents installed 500 gallon containers at each spouting exit on their house and the outbuildings comprising our business. This equates to 9 500 gallon tanks. 2 inches of rain fills every tank. That's 4500 gallons of water during a good thunderstorm! No wonder I like to paint clouds. The tanks can be had free "for now". Chemical companies and the places that sell tanbark are good sources. The die comes in these containers. They are plastic in an aluminum frame. Lets use the things! As you say, once water is more expensive people will find out about the beauty of saving rain water and these containers will be free no longer.With a little creativity...battery pumps...gravity...underground storage this could be a very useful thing. Just a thought and of course I subscribe to " mother earth news". And I move a lot of water.

Melinda said...

It is a comfort to read that there are many in Colorado who are doing all that is possible to protect the region and its water.

Thank you for this post. It's a beautiful photo.

We have six water harvesting barrels (not yet 500 gallons each) collecting from our roof and hope one day to have more. We also have created shallow canals that direct water to our trees and veggie/flower garden. There isn't anything we can do about Phoenix...

SamArtDog said...

The 500-gallon rain-capture barrels are a great idea, of course. However, during our 10-year drought (now thought to be "over"), the wise white men who run the state made them illegal, the theory being that if the rain off our roofs is collected, it won't make it down into the shriveling Ogalala Aquifer.

Foresight can be as useless as hindsight...