New Report Explores Arizona’s Relationship with the Colorado River, Highlights Need for Latino Engagement in Its Protection

A new report from Hispanic Access Foundation finds that the implementation of water policies in Arizona, especially those designed to protect the Colorado River, will likely be more successful if the state’s Latino communities are engaged in the process. Latinos are the fastest growing segment in the state, possess qualities that make them influential environmental stewards and Latinos throughout the west have demonstrated the willingness and abilities to lead on conservation issues.

“The Colorado River is an integral part of our heritage and way of life. From serving as the backbone for the agricultural industry to providing a cultural focal point for faith communities, the Colorado River is essential to the livelihood of the Southwest,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. “By taking action now we can make strides in ensuring that future generations can continue to benefit from this tremendous resource.”

Titled “Arizona’s Mighty Colorado: Exploring the Relationship between Arizona, Local Economies, Growing Populations and the Need to Protect the Colorado River,” the report provides input on why Arizona needs to focus on protecting the Colorado River and includes suggestions from policies to engagement efforts on how to do so.

“The Colorado River is the lifeblood of Arizona and its waters in the state grow food for Americans nationwide,” said Matt Rice, Colorado Basin director for American Rivers.  “But the river is at a breaking point. If we don’t take immediate steps to improve water management, the impacts to Arizona and its economy will be severe.”

The report finds that while the Colorado River has been under stress due to drought, changes in climate and overuse, it still fuel Arizona’s economy. However, while population growth in the state exceeds the growth of other states, the booming Latino population, which hasn’t been actively engaged, is a population demonstrating above average concerns about drought and water futures.

“We all have a moral obligation to protect our waters and since no one wants to experience water cuts, we shouldn’t wait until we’re at a critical point of failure before we act,” said Pastor Burke Montoya from Phoenix’s Way of Life Church. “The river is entrusted to us, a vital source for all of us, but we must take care of it in return. All Arizona stakeholders, working together, can sustain the health of the Colorado River, safeguard this substantial economic driver for countless communities, and make sure future generations do not remember us for failing them, but instead continue to benefit from this incredible treasure.”

In addition to the need to engage Arizona’s Latinos to achieve successful policy implementation, the report underscores the need for the states elected official to adopt the Drought Contingency Plan – an agreement between Arizona, California and Nevada to reduce each state’s river use as Lake Mead declines – as well as the state to continue partnering with other states and investing in technologies that reduce water use and provide additional water sources to ease the burden on the Colorado River.

The latest report in the Access Whitepaper Series, “Arizona’s Mighty Colorado”, can be downloaded at http://www.hispanicaccess.org/COriver.

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