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Where does all the water from the Colorado go?


Glen Dam (1968)

Created Lake Powell with a storage capacity of 27 million acre feet of water.

2.4 million people visit Glen Canyon Recreation Area annually. Generates over 3.4 billion kilowatt-hours of energy per year.

Regulates the amount of water delivered to the lower basin states of Arizona, Nevada, and California.

Last Dam Built on Colorado River amid rising environmental concerns.


Hoover Dam (1936)

Built to control floods and generate hydroelectric power.

Tallest dam on the Colorado River at 726.4 feet.

Stores 27 million acre feet in Lake Mead.

Built at a cost of $49 million or $824 million in today's dollars.

Generates 4.2 billion kilowatt-hours of energy per year.


Davis Dam (1951)

Regulates water delivery to Mexico through integrated Davis and Hoover power plants, and provides power for Arizona, Nevada, and California.

Used more than 3.6 million cubic yards of construction materials.

Construction began in 1942, temporarily suspended due to WWII.

Stores up to 1.8 million acre feet of water.

Generates about 968.6 million kilowatt-hours of net energy per year.


Parker Dam (1938)

Provides water and power to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, and Tucson.

Created Lake Havasu, 45 miles in length.

Deepest dam in the world.

Generates about 453.8 million kilowatt-hours of net energy per year.

Central Arizona Project diversion canal extends 336 miles to Phoenix and Tucson areas.

Colorado River Aqueduct pumps water 242 miles to California.


Imperial Dam (1938)

Delivers irrigation and drinking water to the Yuma, Imperial, Coachella, and Gila Valleys through the All-American and Gila Gravity Main Canal.

Diverts 90% of the river's remaining water flow.

Irrigates nearly 600,000 acres of rich farmland.

Desilting works remove river silt to prevent canal sedimentation.

All-American Canal is 80 miles long, 150 feet wide, and carries 15,155 cubic feet of water per second.


Laguna Dam (1909)

First dam on the Colorado River, effectively ending steamboat traffic. Constructed using 486,800 cubic yards of material.

Brought a secure water supply to the Yuma area.

Superseded by construction of Imperial Dam in 1938.

Historic and modern photos of the dam reflect dramatic reduction in river flows.


Morelos Dam (1950)

Named after Mexican patriot Jose Maria Morelos, an independence leader.

Serves as Mexico's only dam on the river, providing 1.5 million acre feet of irrigation and drinking water to the Mexicali Valley.

River runs dry south of Morelos and no longer reaches the Gulf of California.

Water deliveries are monitored by the International Boundary and Water Commission.

What has been the impact of the dams?

American Nile

If you eat a salad in the United States during the winter months, the iceberg lettuce you eat probably will have been grown in Yuma, Arizona. Yuma provides 95% of the winter fresh vegetables for the entire country, generating $2.5 billion annually of GDP for Yuma's economy and 20% of its jobs.

Yuma farmers produce more than 40 different kinds of vegetables and melons on more than 90,000 acres of land.

Changes to the Ecosystem

Dams brought hydropower and a safe and secure source of water for the Southwest. However, controlled and decreasing levels of river flows meant that native cottonwood and willow forest did not regenerate and were replaced by dense monotypic salt cedar. This invasive non-vegetation cut the Yuma community off from the river, which spawned hobo camps and trash dumps. Many believed that high soil salinity and low river flows prevented wetlands restoration from ever returning.

River Allocation

Today the Colorado River meets the water and power needs of the nearly 25 million people within the basin states and adjoining areas, It's reservoirs also provide water for more than 1.4 million acres of irrigated land, producing about 15 percent of the nation's crops, 13 percent of its livestock, and agricultural benefits of more than $1.5 billion a year.

Future of the river

What our nation must do moving forward - Those of us who depend on the Colorado River for their lives and livelihood face a serious challenge. A recent Bureau of Reclamation study detailed that over the next 50 years, increasing demand for water will exceed diminishing supplies.

Learn More About the Colorado River

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