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Colorado Case Study

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Colorado River Case Study Jordana Clark Word Count 1136 IB SL Geography Mr. Mattiace The Colorado River is the main river for the American South west flowing across 1,350 miles of the United States of America and 90 miles of Mexico. The states in which the Colorado crosses are Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California. The original name for the Colorado river was the "Red River", in Spanish, as it use to look reddish-brown color. The headwaters of the Colorado River are located in the Rocky Mountains Park in Colorado. From Colorado the river flows southwestward towards the Gulf of California, located in Mexico, and the Pacific Ocean. The river has alternating speed flow from rapid to calm sections. The variation of the depth of the river from 6 to 9 feet impacts the speed. Normally in the shallower sections the flow is faster than in deeper parts that tend to be calm. In recent years the Colorado River has made headlines due to pollution. In 2004 Colorado made the list of "America's Most Endangered Rivers of 2004." ...read more.


However, the effect of perchlorate are particularly harmful towards children as it can cause lowering of IQ, mental retardation, and the loss of hearing, speech and motor skills. Yet the disturbing fact is that governments are unable to remove perchlorate from water pipes that are being distributed to its residential customers. This is also leading to the contamination of leafy vegetables, which, end up, on the shelves of supermarkets and grocery stores. More than 400 pounds of percolate still flows towards Lake Mead each day4. The third source of pollution is radioactive mill waste from defunct facility along the Colorado River. The former Atlas Minerals Corporation have 12 million tons of radioactive material stored in a crude which is, unlined impoundment on the river bank and is the fifth largest and single most dangerous uranium tailings pile in the country.5 Each day, 110,000 gallons of radioactive groundwater seeps into the river from the site. The National Academy of Sciences has warned that it is "nearly certain that the river's course will run across the Moab site sometime in the future" ultimately flooding about a half ton of radioactive material for every man, woman, and child that drinks Colorado River water. ...read more.


The dams situated around the basin are able to store more than 86 billion cubic meters of water7. The dam which can hold the most water is the Hoover Dam followed by the Glen Canyon Dam. The Morelos Diversion Dam, located on the Mexico-Arizona boarder, sends nearly all of the remaining water to irrigation canals in the Mexicali Valley and to Mexican towns. Therefore, the river rarely reaches the Gulf of California. As a result the wetlands, at the mouth of the Colorado River, has been reduced to just a fraction of its former size, further more contributing to the destruction of vegetation and wildlife. Previously, before the construction of the dams, the Colorado flowed 80 miles through Mexico to the Gulf of California. The Colorado River is used for many different purposes. Many people use it for drinking water others for fishing and jet skiing. The dams are used for irrigation and recreation. Also, the Colorado River is a source of watering for agricultural produce. There an estimated 40 dams spread along the Colorado River each providing a purpose for local areas. However, "unless Congress and the federal government step in to bolster local cleanup efforts, the drinking water for 25 million Americans will remain at risk. ...read more.

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