Colorado River Basin One of Most Abused in Country

Environmental Group Issues Warning

A conservation group issued a report declaring the Colorado River to be one of the most abused river basins in the country, the Las Vegas Journal reported.

The Colorado River, the primary drinking water source for much of the southwestern United States, tops a list of endangered waterways in a ranking by the conservation group American Rivers, the Journal reported.

Most of the attention surrounding the Colorado River recently has involved allocations among river users, environmental advocates say we should be focusing on the toxic chemicals, radioactive material and human waste seeping into the watershed.

The report concluded that pollutants originating in Nevada, Utah, Arizona and California "warrant a massive, coordinated federal effort," the Journal reported.

Perchlorate, a salt used as an oxidizer in rocket fuel and munitions, is the source of some of American Rivers' concerns. Perchlorate had been produced at a facility in Henderson, Nev., since the 1940s. Originally, this was a Navy-owned facility, but Kerr-McGee Corp. purchased the plant in 1967, continuing to producteperchlorate there until 1998.

Despite a $106 million cleanup system of filters and pumping stations installed between the Kerr-McGee plant and the Las Vegas Wash, an estimated 400 pounds of toxic perchlorate continues to seep into Lake Mead each day, Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth, a group which contributed to the river report, told the Journal.

A spokesman for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, which distributes drinking water in the valley, said Nevada and Kerr-McGee are ahead of federal regulators in ensuring safe drinking water.

Patrick Corbett, Kerr-McGee's director of environmental affairs for remediation and planning, said the amount of perchlorate entering the lake has dropped from 1,000 pounds a day to about 180 pounds.

Las Vegas Review Journal

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