The Colorado River is a Refuge for Criminals

New push to shore up shrinking Colorado River could reduce water flow to California and, if prolonged, lead to serious flooding On the morning of April 10, a small band of men armed with…

The Colorado River is a Refuge for Criminals

New push to shore up shrinking Colorado River could reduce water flow to California and, if prolonged, lead to serious flooding

On the morning of April 10, a small band of men armed with ropes lassoed a single, small raft out of the middle of the Colorado River.

They began a long journey that would take them a month and more than 1,300 miles upstream before reaching a small encampment on the banks of the Colorado River in Arizona.

From there, the river journey took them south to a dry riverbank, where they would wait for the Colorado’s final, inevitable collapse — and the water that would once again flood the American Southwest.

The men who found the raft had come to stop California’s rising water from drowning the state in the worst possible way.

As a result of climate change and population growth, the flow of the Colorado River is dropping at a rate of one foot per year. The river, which supplies water to more than 30 million people in seven states, is losing 20 percent of its flow every five years, roughly as fast as it is rising.

The water shortage is leading to California cities like Sacramento and San Diego getting dangerously close to their highest reservoir levels in decades.

The river is also threatening the lives of people who rely on the Colorado River in Arizona. The river’s steep banks have made it a gateway for illegal immigrants and, in some cases, a place where criminals have dumped victims’ bodies just before they died.

The rafting journey started in the spring of 2016 when scientists predicted that the once-flowing river would soon run dry because of climate change. The federal Bureau of Reclamation, which manages the Colorado River, and the South American country of Peru tried to find a solution.

The rafting campaign attracted an unlikely band of American kayakers including professional river runners and rafters from places including New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, and Italy.

The rafts, each carrying a few dozen passengers and loaded with three to four tons of cargo, were launched in a bid to send a warning to the government, as well as California officials in Los Angeles and San Diego, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers — the people and

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