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Problem: Downstream Effects

Surface water provides habitat for wetland and riverine ecosystems which often include threatened or endangered species. A minimum flow is necessary to prevent loss of habitat, which in the case of the Pacific Salmon harvest can translate into substantial economic losses (Simon, 1998). Surface flow diversion along the Columbia River has resulted in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service purchases of upstream water rights for downstream flow augmentation (USFWS, 2001). Often the amount of water promised through right-holder contracts exceeds the safe flow available. In recent drought years the Colorado River has diminished to little more than a trickle before reaching the Pacific Ocean, leading to negative environmental impacts in the Colorado delta ecosystem (CRWUA, 2001).

Andy Wingo 2001-12-10