The Colorado River supports 25 million Americans for their drinking water. It is also used to irrigate crops for many farmers in the Midwest. Covering almost 250,000 square miles, it crosses into seven states. Its riverfront communities in California and Arizona are also the largest users of septic tanks. In an article by the Arizona DEQ in 2004, three major reasons were sited as contaminates of the Colorado River. In the same year, the Colorado River was also named The Most Threatened River in the U.S. The first reason was due to the septic tank use, where nitrates seep into the ground water that eventually reaches the Colorado River. High levels of nitrates in drinking water causes blue baby syndrome and has been linked to cancer. The second reason is perchlorate, which is an ingredient in rocket fuel that has can cause mental retardation, loss of hearing and speech, and motor skills. The source of this contaminate is Henderson, Nevada, a site where the U.S. produced missile fuel during the Cold War. While efforts to curb this contamination have helped, 400 lbs of perchlorate still reach the Colorado every day. The third reason is radioactive mill waste that comes from defunct facilities in Moab, Utah, the location of one of the richest uranium deposits ever.
For the article, visit: http://www.azdeq.gov/environ/water/download/riversreport.pdf
Posted by Hyun Yu