Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Friday, April 13, 2012 | 2 p.m.
On Thursday Nuestro Rio, an organization rallying Hispanics to participate in conservation efforts for the Colorado River, unveiled a musical homage and call to action for the waterway at events in Las Vegas, Denver, Albuquerque and Phoenix.
In February, The Sun wrote about Nuestro Rio, which has members in five states including Nevada working to protect the Colorado River and its watershed.
At the time, Andres Ramirez, Nevada director for Nuestro Rio (Our River), said the organization had commissioned a "corrido" (ballad) about the Colorado River to help promote their conservation cause.
Nuestro Rio Corrido
The corrido, which is in Spanish with English subtitles for its YouTube video, is also available as a ringtone.
The Colorado River has lost 35 percent of the stored water available in the past 12 years because of consumption and drought, according to Nuestro Rio. The river once emptied into Mexico's Gulf of California, but now dries up short of the sea.
In Las Vegas, resident have their own measuring stick for the river's health in the water levels of Lake Mead, which hit a 75-year low in 2010 before rebounding slightly in 2011, according to Bureau of Reclamation data. The winter of 2010-2011 brought above-average snowfall, however, and this winter has not been as kind. Officials expect 2012 to be the second-driest year for the Colorado River since 2000.
"If we do nothing, the price of water will spike, agriculture and rural communities will become less viable, and households will be forced by utilities and governments to make drastic changes in how they use water," Ramirez said in a statement. "The basic math of demand exceeding supply means that the status quo is unsustainable."
At each event on Thursday representatives of Nuestro Rio emphasized the need to embrace and employ practical solutions that they grouped into three categories: improving urban conservation, improving agricultural efficiency and establishing "water banks," the use of markets to facilitate temporary or permanent transfer of water rights among water users, thereby moving water to where it is needed most.
"We have to focus on practical and cost-effective measures -- not impractical proposals that will do little to solve this problem and hurt millions of people," Ramirez said in a statement, referring to suggestions that include building pipelines from the Mississippi River to New Mexico and towing icebergs to Southern California from Alaska.