Colorado River Alliance Celebrates 20 Years

AUSTIN, TX (February 2014) – Twenty years ago, the Texas Colorado River was recovering from years of neglect, the population relying on the river was about half its current size and a small conservation organization took on the task of educating the public about the need to conserve and protect its waters.

Today, as the Colorado River Alliance celebrates 20 years of service, the river again knows extraordinary challenges.

“Two decades ago, efforts cleaned up the River, and small cities up and downstream were drawing people back to its banks,” said Sarah Richards, executive director of the Alliance. “Today, with the extreme drought and an exploding population, there are new problems and new opportunities for educating people about the value of this unique waterway.”

Since the nonprofit organization began conservation education in 1994, more than a half-million people have moved into the watershed, seeking to quench their thirst and supply their businesses. The Alliance (originally the Colorado River Foundation) is the only non-profit organization solely dedicated to the health of the Texas Colorado River.

“We have raised the funds to educate well over 10,000 young people about what they can do to protect and conserve their drinking water,” Richards said. “Now, some of them are young adults making their own decisions about watering yards and repairing dripping faucets. We have been part of a team that is making a difference in how this region uses water.”

The Texas Colorado River has seen an extreme reduction of inflows over the past several years. The three lakes in West Texas are only 7.6 percent full, with less than 32 billion gallons in storage. In Central Texas, the two water supply reservoirs are 38 percent full, with 249 billion gallons in storage. Most agricultural use of water has curtailed and water use restrictions have been implemented in major cities. The river meanders around once-covered sand bars for most of its length.

“Now, more than ever, we need people to know how to make careful use of the river,” said Alliance Board President Keith Jackson. “The Alliance is working with the Lower Colorado River Authority, Austin Water and the City of Austin, the Austin Independent School District and community-minded corporations such as Samsung to educate people, reach out to communities and provide environmental education.”

The top new initiative of the Alliance is the construction of a traveling, interactive science classroom that will carry the conservation message to an exponentially greater number of students. The Texas Colorado River Mobile Learning Experience will provide hands on science, math and technology education. The project has received funding from Impact Austin, Samsung, among others. “Austin Water is pleased to partner with the Colorado River Alliance to help educate Austin youth on the importance of preserving our local water source,” said Daryl Slusher, Assistant Director of Environmental Affairs with Austin Water.

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Media Contact:
Jessica Balladares-Bennett

Colorado River Alliance Launches Mobile River Experience

Austin, TX (November 18, 2013) – The Colorado River Alliance announced today the launch of the first ever Texas Colorado River Mobile River Learning Experience.

In partnership with Austin Water, the Colorado River Alliance (CRA) is proud to expand its current set of youth education programs to include, the Texas Colorado River Mobile Learning Experience. “Austin Water is pleased to partner with the Colorado River Alliance to help educate Austin youth on the importance of preserving our local water source,” said Daryl Slusher, Assistant Director of Environmental Affairs with the City of Austin.

With plans to launch in the 2014-2015 school year, the Colorado River Alliance will work directly with Austin Water and Austin Independent School District (AISD) to bring the field trip experience to more than 5,000 seventh students in AISD. In addition, CRA and Austin Water plan to reach an additional 3,000 to 5,000 sixth thru eighth grade students through community events and expanded partnerships with surrounding area schools. “The Colorado River Alliance is thrilled to work with AISD and Austin Water to provide a cutting edge, interactive experience to students across Austin to learn about our most vital natural resource,” said Sarah Richards, Executive Director of the Colorado River Alliance.

The Texas Colorado River Mobile Learning Experience will function as a traveling, interactive science museum, utilizing interactive exhibits and hands-on activities housed inside a 40-foot trailer. Students will enter a watery world where science and technology merge to encounter critical thinking about our most precious resource.

With the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) aligned curriculum, interactive models will engage and instruct, inspiring students to go out and make a difference. “The Mobile Learning Experience will be a great opportunity to teach children in Austin the crucial fundamentals about our water source,” said Charlie Gutierrez, Science Supervisor with the Austin Independent School District.

Overall program goals are to reduce the water use within the Colorado River basin, increase knowledge for a healthier Colorado River, and develop a workforce of STEM professionals with a high knowledge base of water quality and water quantity needs for a sustainable water supply.

For more information about the Texas Colorado River Mobile Learning Experience or the Colorado River Alliance, contact Sarah Richards at 512-498-1587 or

About the Colorado River Alliance:
The Colorado River Alliance (CRA) is the only nonprofit in Texas dedicated solely to the protection and conservation of the Texas Colorado River. As our population increases, and severe drought conditions persist, water conservation is critical to Austin’s future.  Over one million people receive their drinking water directly from the River and Austin’s community utilizes the River through outdoor activities or Lady Bird Lake, Lake Travis and beyond. The Texas Colorado River is the heart of our city. We believe that if we use it, we should protect it.

Media Contact:
Jessica Balladares-Bennett


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