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A case study of hydrosphere Colorado River

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Introduction

COLORADO RIVER Hydrosphere A case study of * River management * People interfering in the hydrosphere * Balancing water from one area to another The Colorado river - basic facts It flows through southwest United States and northwestern Mexico. It is 2334 km (1450 miles long), the longest river west of the Rocky Mountains. Its source is west of the Rocky Mountains which is the watershed in northern Colorado, and, for the first 1600km (1000miles) of its course, passes through a series of deep gorges and canyons that were created by the eroding force of its current. The river flows in a generally southwestern direction across Colorado into south eastern Utah, where it is joined by its chief tributary, The Green River. After crossing the northern portion of Arizona, the Colorado flows west for 436 km (271 miles) through the majestic Grand Canyon. Then it flows in a generally southerly direction and forms the boundary between Arizona and the states on Nevada and California. ...read more.

Middle

Effects of river management: Gains Losses Economic * Increased income from farming in some areas * New industries attracted to the "Sunshine States" (footloose industries see attractive climate) * Hydro electric power has attracted new industries and created jobs - boosted local economy * Cheap electricity reduces dependence on oil and imports * Dams and Grand Ganyon a major tourist attraction. * Fast growth of cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas but how long can they be sustained if water runs out ? * Schemes are very expensive to run and have cost the US government huge sums of money. Environmental * More varied and attractive scenery with reservoir lakes - attracts different wildlife. * Water provided for vegetation * Reduced dependence on fossil fuels which can pollute the environment. * Flood risk reduced. * So much water has been drawn from aquifers under Phoenix that the water table has fallen. Engineers are worried that technology may not be good enough to go any lower if water table is not filled naturally. ...read more.

Conclusion

June 1983 Sudden heatwave leads to rapid snowmelt. Thunderstorms bring very heavy rain - Parker flooded - much damage to marinas, resorts along the river. Engineers criticised for not keeping reservoir levels lower to hold the sudden melting snow. Their defence was not wanting to let out too much water in case of drier than average conditions. Engineers say that people who build settlements for profit along the river's course can hardly complain when a river flows where it's supposed to go. How is development creating longer term problems for groundwater storage ? Cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas are built in the desert. This whole process relies on water from two sources: 1. River water pumped from the Colorado system 2. Groundwater held in aquifers below ground. Modern technology has allowed engineers to drill deep below into aquifers. However, more water is being drawn out of the underground reservoirs than is being filled by rainwater infiltrating and river water soaking underground. This means for the cities to carry on growing technology has to go even deeper. Planners are now beginning to question how much more development can take place as future technology will have limits. ...read more.

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