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Protecting Rivers Starts by Understanding Them

Updated: May 19, 2021

Here are the four biggest threats to rivers out west. We have less control over some things, but we can still take steps to protect our rivers.


Rising temperatures caused by CO2 emissions pose significant threats to river ecosystems. When temperatures rise, so does the temperature of rivers, reducing its oxygen content that fish need to survive. Rising temperatures also lead to earlier snowmelt and evaporation, more frequent droughts, and shifting precipitation patterns that lower water levels in rivers, leaving less water to dilute pollutants.

Reducing the more significant impacts of global warming requires collaboration and making some major changes. But we can still do our part to reduce our carbon footprint.


Colorado’s population continues to increase, which puts more demand on our water supply. Instead of diverting more water from rivers to meet increasing demands, we need to start practicing how to do more less. Here are a few simple things you can do to conserve our water supply and keep more water in our rivers. Changing just one of these habits will result in saving a minimum of 50 gallons per month - or a full-size bathtub.


Rivers are managed through dams and reservoirs that determine when and how much water they store, save, and release depending on demand. While they help provide water to farms and cities, some are outdated and fail to consider the ecological needs of our rivers. Outdated and inefficient systems are a culprit for depleting water resources, polluting water systems, and destroying natural ecosystems.


Many things impact the water quality of our rivers. Mining activity oil and gas activity, agricultural runoff, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, industrial waste, and trash pollution are significant contributors to declining water quality, and they all add up.

On an individual level, we need to do our best to reduce the amount of trash that ends up on the ground - and our use of single-use plastics and chemicals. The majority of trash that ends up on the ground makes its way into our rivers, leaching toxins that degrade water quality. Microplastics are becoming increasingly detrimental to our health and the health of waterways. Blog post coming soon with things we can do to make a difference and reduce.

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