To facilitate the protection and enhancement of the Colorado River through monitoring and analysis of water quality in an effort to achieve the ultimate goal to assure and sustain high quality water for all users of the Colorado River.

Historically, the quantity of water on the Colorado River has been the primary focus of regulatory agencies.

The 1922 Colorado River Compact laid the foundation for regulating water in the Colorado River Basin watershed. The purpose of the compact was "to provide for the equitable division and apportionment of the use of the waters of the Colorado River system; to establish the relative importance of different beneficial uses of water; to promote interstate comity; to remove causes of present and future controversies and to secure the expeditious agricultural and industrial development of the Colorado River Basin, the storage of its waters, and the protection of life and property from floods." This law divided the watershed into two regions: an Upper Basin consisting of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and the northeast corner of Arizona; and a Lower Basin, composed of Arizona, California and Nevada. Each basin has an annual allocation of 7.5 million acre-feet.

Subsequent legislation, executive actions, and judicial decrees have refined how water is apportioned and conveyed in the Colorado River Basin watershed. Congress approved the Boulder Canyon Project Act of 1928, which authorized the construction of the Hoover Dam and Power Plant and the All-American Canal. In addition, the Lower Basin states made provision for the sharing of water, and authorization was given to the Secretary of the Interior to execute contracts for water made available by the Boulder Canyon Project, subject to the terms of the Colorado River Compact. The Arizona vs California Supreme Court cases with decisions extended from 1931 to 2006, set the amount of each Lower Basin state's Colorado River water annual apportionment. Under the Colorado River Basin Act of 1968, the Department of Interior, through the Bureau of Reclamation, has managed the allocation of water to respective shareholders of that resource and authorized the construction of the Central Arizona Project.

The federal government set a precedent for dealing with water quality on the Colorado River as a result of international negotiations. In 1962, the Mexican government formally protested to the United States regarding the quality of Colorado River water being delivered to the Mexicali Valley under the Mexican Treaty of 1944. Negotiations between the two countries led to the adoption in 1973 of Minute 242, which obligates the United States to implement measures that will maintain the salinity of Colorado River waters delivered to Mexico at nearly the same quality as that diverted at Imperial Dam for use within the United States. Subsequently, the seven basin states undertook a regional approach to reduce salinity undertaken through the Colorado River Basin Salinity Control Act of 1974. This act authorized the construction of the Yuma Desalination Plant to treat agricultural returns flows before going into Mexico. This plant, finished in 1992, operated only briefly on two occasions, including as late as 2009.

Little other regulatory oversight for water quality initiatives exists on the Lower Colorado River outside USEPA Clean Water Act rules. However, several issues and events have developed on the river system that gained state and federal attention towards water quality on the river. Uranium mining near Moab, Utah from the 1950's to the 1980's resulted in uranium tailings piled over a 160 acre site on the banks of the Colorado River. On-site scientific investigations indicated there is a significant potential for contamination to enter the river through surface runoff and groundwater transport. In 1997, two unrelated contaminant sites were recognized. Perchlorate, a rocket fuel, was discovered in the Lower Colorado River and traced back to a facility near Las Vegas Wash in Henderson, Nevada. This contaminant found its way to lettuce crops in Yuma. Secondly, a chromium plume in groundwater at Pacific Gas & Electric's Topock Compression station in California began to be evaluated. This site sits adjacent to the Colorado River channel where Interstate Highway I-40 crosses the river. Further, groundwater containing nitrate levels above the Clean Water Act's regulatory threshold of 10 parts per million threatened to enter the river at several points associated with urban development. Although all of the above issues have and are undergoing remediation actions, they underscore the threats to the river's water quality.

Biological agents, including invasive species, have also threatened the river system's water quality. In 2001, a significant green algal bloom occurred in Las Vegas Bay in Lake Mead, which eventually reached reservoirs in the San Diego area. Investigations by the Southern Nevada Water Authority and the state traced the source to excessive phosphate concentrations in treated wastewater from three wastewater treatment plants that lie along Las Vegas Wash. In 2007, quagga mussels were discovered in all three major Lower Colorado River reservoirs, which threaten to enter all surface water diversion points on the river. These mussels have also upset some ecosystem dynamics, including their probable contribution to seasonal outbreaks of Microcystis, a cyanobacteria that photosynthesizes like algae, but can generate neurotoxins after death that are harmful to humans, pets and certain wildlife.

The Colorado River Regional Sewer Coalition (CRRSCo) was founded in 1997 for the original purpose of seeking federal funding for improving wastewater treatment systems, including centralized sewer construction that addressed the nitrate issue on the Lower Colorado River. Along the way, CRRSCo decided to become involved with the Clean Colorado River Alliance, a 2005 initiative created by Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) after the river was listed as the most endangered in the country. This alliance, through a white paper published on the ADEQ website in 2006, identified the main pollutants of concern that potentially could affect water quality on the river. With the completion of expanded sewer infrastructure in Bullhead City and Lake Havasu City by 2011 and the prospect of extremely limited federal and state funding for further projects, CRRSCo contemplated the above issues and sought whether there were other Lower Colorado River watershed scale interests focused on water quality. Finding none, CRRSCo decided in 2013 to re-focus its efforts, through a modification of its by-laws, on the river system's water quality and re-name itself to the Clean Colorado River Sustainability Coalition (CCRSCo).

Statement of Principles and Policies

The Clean Colorado River Sustainability Coalition is a voluntary association available to local, state, tribal and other stakeholder representatives from Arizona, Nevada and California. The purpose of this corporation is to faciliate the protection and enhancement of the Colorado River through monitoring and analysis of water quality in an effort to achieve the ultimate goal to assure and sustain high quality water for all users of the Colorado River.

Within this concept, the Coalition acts in support of member Indian tribes, counties, cities, towns and political subdivisions within the United States along the Lower "Colorado River and its adjacent developed areas from Hoover Dam to the Southerly International Boundary with Mexico, south of Yuma, Arizona..."(1)

  1. To provide a forum for discussion and study of regional water quality issues of mutual interest to its members.
  2. To monitor, analyze and react to water quality trends impacting the sustainability of the Lower Colorado River.
  3. To uncover, clarify, identify and comprehensively plan for the solution of regional water quality problems which are common to its members.
  4. To faciliate cooperation among governmental, non-profit, private, and academic units for specific projects relating to sustainability of water quality in the Lower Colorado River improvements or for the adoption of common policies with respect to problems and issues which are common or of mutual interest to its members.
  5. To do any and all things that are incident and conducive to the attainment of the above purposes and objectives to the same extent as natural persons might or could do, which now or hereafter may be authorized by the laws of the United States of America and the State of Arizona.

Full documentation as PDFs

By-laws Articles
By-Laws of the Coalition Articles of Incorporation