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Colorado River serves multiple uses in the West

From its headwaters in northern Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico, the Colorado River has many uses

Todd Fitchette

June 22, 2020

10 Slides
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The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation operates the 120,000 kW hydroelectric plant at Parker Dam on the California and Arizona border. Power generation is used in part to pump water to Arizona and California water users via the Central Arizona Project and the Colorado River Aqueduct.Todd Fitchette

The Colorado River: we irrigate food and fiber with it, fight over it, swim in it, fish from it, heat and cool our homes and businesses from its mighty power, boat on it, drink from it, and enjoy its grandeur. It is also the natural boundary to three states.

From its headwaters at a tiny lake on the northern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park to the Gulf of California, mankind has managed to harness the 1,450-mile-long ribbon of water to meet a host of needs.

Parker Dam is one of 15 on the main river and is the deepest dam on earth. Construction on the dam was completed in 1938, three years after Hoover Dam – 155 miles upstream – was dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Though they vary vastly in size, the two share similar architecture.

Behind Parker Dam sits Lake Havasu, a popular body of water that serves a recreational mecca for millions of visitors annually.

Whether we’re using it to grow food and fiber, generating megawatts of power from it, swimming in and boating on it, photographing it, or conveying it to our homes in cities like Los Angeles and San Diego, the Colorado River serves the West in many useful ways.

About the Author(s)

Todd Fitchette

Associate Editor, Western Farm Press

Todd Fitchette, associate editor with Western Farm Press, spent much of his journalism career covering agriculture in California and the western United States. Aside from reporting about issues related to farm production, environmental regulations and legislative matters, he has extensive experience covering the dairy industry, western water issues and politics. His journalistic experience includes local daily and weekly newspapers, where he was recognized early in his career as an award-winning news photographer.

Fitchette is US Army veteran and a graduate of California State University, Chico. 

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