DENVER, September 26, 2013 - Xanterra Parks & Resorts announced today it has joined Protect the Flows coalition to ensure the survival of the Colorado River.
The coalition of more than 900 businesses known as Protect the Flows, seeks to promote innovative water policy for the 21st Century, while seeking to protect the iconic river that carved the Grand Canyon.
“Knowing water is our most precious resource, Xanterra has committed to a significant reduction in water usage as part of our future sustainability goals,” said Catherine Greener, Xanterra’s vice president-sustainability. “Xanterra is deeply committed to protecting and preserving the environment. It’s one of our core business values, and we are proud to join this historic effort.”
Greener is providing opening remarks at the “Protect the Flows Summit on Water and the Economy” Oct. 17 and 18 in Denver. Senator Mark Udall, member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources, is the keynote speaker at the summit.
Many might not realize that time and water for the Colorado River are running out. During the last 12 years, the Colorado River has lost 35 percent of the stored water available through increased consumption and widespread drought. As the demand for water has exceeded the supply, numerous areas of the river and its tributaries have already dried up and need to be restored, while others are in urgent need of preservation. A recent, two-year study conducted by the Bureau of Reclamation and agencies representing the seven Colorado River basin states (Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and California) concludes that if the current course remains unchanged, the magnificent Colorado River will eventually slow to a trickle and the Southwest will become a vast desert.
“Xanterra’s commitment to our spectacular natural resources is an integral part of our company’s business and culture,” said Greener. “It is important that we demonstrate this commitment by joining the Protect the Flows’ coalition to protect the mighty Colorado: a river that spans seven states and provides work and recreation for millions of people who live and visit there.”
The Colorado River is special to Xanterra because the company operates in Rocky Mountain National Park not far from the river’s headwaters and in Grand Canyon National Park which the river created, added Greener. Additionally, waters from the Virgin River in Zion National Park where Xanterra operates Zion Lodge make their way to the Colorado River.
The Colorado River gives life to the West and losing its flows would have dire consequences for the environment and the economy, not only in the Colorado River basin’s seven-state region, but across the nation. The river:
- Produces $26 billion per year in economic output from recreation
- Generates another $17 billion in retail sales
- Supports nearly one quarter of a million jobs
- Provides recreational opportunities to 5.36 million local visitors and millions more who visit from across the country and around the world
- Provides drinking water to more than 30 million people within the region
- Irrigates farmlands that produce 15 percent of the nation’s crops
Without the Colorado River flowing, tourism and all the business it supports would drop. Fish would no longer attract anglers, rafters would no longer have opportunities to brave the rapids and hikers would no longer be drawn to the lush scenery along the river’s canyon walls. In turn, local communities would become less attractive for residents and visitors and housing prices would drop precipitously. As a result, the economy would decline even more sharply.
The Bureau of Reclamation’s cost analysis reveals that improved municipal conservation, water re-use and agricultural conservation would cost only a quarter as much as ocean desalination, and one third as much as a proposed new pipeline to stretch from the Missouri River across nearly 800 miles from Kansas to Colorado. Conservation, reuse, and inland desalination are consensus measures that are included in every suite of options, or “portfolios,” analyzed by the Bureau.
“Xanterra has been extremely proactive in regards to water conservation,” Greener said. “Earlier this year we enacted a conservation effort for our staff and guests at Crater Lake titled ‘Conserve for Crater,’ in an effort to reduce our water consumption by 25 percent. Our company is committed to doing everything it can to conduct business with ‘a softer footprint.’ ”
On April 17, 2013 the Colorado River was named the nation’s “Most Endangered River.” The river is at a tipping point and requires immediate action in regards to water management based on a conservation first framework.
“We are very pleased that Xanterra—the country’s oldest and largest national and state park concessioner—has joined the coalition to protect the Colorado River,” said Craig Mackey, Protect the Flows’ co-director. “Protect the Flows is the business voice for the Colorado River which, sadly, was recently designated the country’s most endangered river. Working together with major corporations like Xanterra greatly enhances our efforts to shine a spotlight on the diminishing waters of the River and the consequences we will have to expect.”