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Dirty and Declining Water Threatens Colorado River Fish

November 14, 2012
Jeremy Nichols (303) 573-4898 x 1303
In This Release
Washington,DC—Colorado River fish, flycatchers, and salamanders comprise just three of many species of wildlife being impacted by water problems, according to a new report released this week by the Endangered Species Coalition. Water Woes: How Dams, Diversions, Dirty Water and Drought Put America’s Wildlife at Risk examines the ways that decreasing water quality and reduced water quantity threaten imperiled species in ten important ecosystems across the United States.

“Many of our nation’s threatened and endangered wildlife are on the brink of extinction because of water pollution and sedimentation, or due to dramatically altered and reduced water flows,” said Leda Huta, the Coalition’s executive director.“Less than 1 percent of the available water on the planet is freshwater. It is essentially the lifeblood for us and many other species, so it’s critical that we take good care of it,” said Huta.

The report identifies agricultural pollution, dams and stream flow diversions as some of the biggest problems collaborating to keep water-dependent wildlife at risk of extinction. Recurring drought resulting from global climate change may also be a key stressor for wildlife already struggling to survive.

“Here in Colorado, our namesake and lifeblood river system is in decline, it’s flows falling in the face of global warming,” said Jeremy Nichols, WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program Director. “Worse, coal contamination is poisoning endangered fish with mercury and selenium. These fish,including the Colorado pike minnow, are vital indicators of the health of our western rivers; their decline needs to be reversed and that starts with confronting coal.”

The ecosystems in the report include Florida’s famous Everglades, the mighty Colorado River,and the towering Sierra Nevada mountains, among others. For each ecosystem, the report identifies some of the endangered species that live there, as well as the necessary conservation measures that will be required to help them to survive. Coalition member groups from across the country nominated the species and ecosystems for inclusion in the report, and the submissions were then reviewed and judged by a panel of scientists. Most of these imperiled species are fish, but the report also identifies two amphibians, two birds, two mammals and one plant, all of which are facing water challenges within these ten ecosystems.

The Endangered Species Coalition has produced a “Top 10” report annually for the last five years. Water Woes can be downloaded http://waterwoes.org. Previous years’ reports are available on the Coalition’s website, www.stopextinction.org.


Other Contact
Leda Huta, Endangered Species Coalition, (202) 320-6467 / lhuta@stopextinction.org