Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Economic impact study on the Colorado River

Rivers and transportation.  Historically, rivers were major transportation corridors for passengers and freight, although as railroads and the national road network were created, their role in passenger travel diminished, but certain rivers still have important freight functions (such as the Mississippi River and barges).

Rivers were a source of industrial power before electricity (look up mill towns) and today some rivers play a role in hydroelectricity production.

In cities, riverfronts served port functions, warehousing, and industry.  As those functions declined or moved to other locations, these waterfronts have often been central to urban revitalization effort,s, keeping marinas in place, but shifting to tourist-related activities.  Some even serve as ports for cruise travel.

Water drawn from rivers is the primary source of drinking water in the United States.

I don't think I've ever seen an economic impact study for a river in its entirety, although I have seen studies of the economic impact of lake-based recreation and for marinas.

The Colorado River flows through six states--Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming and part of Mexico.  The Colorado River Basin also includes New Mexico.

In the context of drought and reductions in available water, Arizona State University conducted an economic impact study, which found that the river is vital to the economies of the states in the Colorado River basin, generating $1.4 trillion of economic activity and supporting 16 million jobs.

-- The Economic Importance of the Colorado River to the Basin Region, Carey School of Business, Arizona State University
-- Protect the Flows is a business advocacy group focused on Colorado River matters. The website has additional resources and reports on various River-related matters
-- Mission 2012 Clean Water webpage on the Colorado River
-- "Sucking the River Dry," Denver Post, 2012

Obviously the Colorado River is a significant source of water for local consumption and agriculture in all of the states it flows through.   "Rights" to draw water from the river are contentious, because the rules are based on consumption in earlier times.

As metropolitan areas have grown in states like Arizona and Nevada, there is more competition between urban and agricultural interests for access.

Demand is greater than supply, and that doesn't even take into account the current drought. As the Southwest continues to add population, questions about access to water in general, and to the Colorado River in particular will become even more contentious.

Water-related advocacy groups believe that the Colorado River is in great crisis, one of the nation's most endangered, and American Rivers called in the nation's the most endangered river of 2013.

Then, there is the issue of water for conservation and wildlife and ecosystem issues other than related to consumption by humans.

Image from High County News.

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