Thursday, January 23, 2014

Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Director Mike Sistak traveled to Denver last year for the Business of Water Summit, sponsored by the Colorado-based consortium Protect the Flows. We continue to be involved in Protect the Flows on behalf of the outdoor recreation industry and businesses of all types in our region who rely heavily on the Colorado River. 6.1 million jobs are associated with the river statewide and billions in state tax revenues are collected annually. We must protect every drop! 

View this great video
produced by Protect the Flows explaining what this group is and their mission:

Flagstaff Chamber Represents Area Businesses at ‘Business of Water’ Summit in Denver

Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Director Mike Sistak recently represented member businesses that rely on the Colorado River and traveled to Denver for the Business of Water Summit, sponsored by the Colorado-based group Protect The Flows.

Protect The Flows was founded in 2011 as a consortium of businesses dedicated to common sense solutions to the water challenges that face the entire southwest. The main driver of needed solutions is finding a way to protect the Colorado River Basin, which is vital to the economies and well being of the 7 state region that comprises the basin.

The group advocates for both business and public policy that will support and sustain the environment, business, recreation, and the overall quality of life that the Colorado River provides.

Throughout the entire basin region, the Colorado River supports over a quarter million jobs and generates over $26 billion in annual economic output. In Arizona alone, the river supports over 53,000 jobs and generates just under $6 billion a year in economic output.

Mike traveled to the summit on the heels of the sixteen day shutdown of the federal government. Northern Arizona bore witness to several million dollars in lost revenue due to the shutdown, closing Grand Canyon National Park and restricting access to the Colorado River.

“The message I wanted to bring to the summit was that in Flagstaff we caught a glimpse of what it would be like if suddenly the Colorado River wasn’t there,” Mike said. “We take the river for granted and if as a business community we don’t invest in sound policies to protect the river, the effects we felt during the shutdown could be that much more detrimental to a wide variety of local businesses.”

Also in attendance at the Denver summit was Mark Lamberson, owner and operator of Mountain Sports in downtown Flagstaff. “As a retailer for outdoor clothing and supplies, much of which ends up going with my customers to the Grand Canyon and Colorado River, I am directly affected by the sustainability of the river,” said Mark. “But no matter what your business or reason for living in Flagstaff is we are all, in some way affected by the river.” Mark and his daughter Lisa have been involved with Protect The Flows since its inception.

At the summit, over 30 individuals represented businesses and organizations that ranged from mega-hotels in Las Vegas that consume thousands of gallons of water a day, to small regional banks that provide startup loans to river runners. The common message among the group was that it is up to the business community to lead the charge of the sustainability of the river.

Mark Udall, the senior United States Senator for Colorado, gave the keynote address at the summit. He indicated that if the Southwestern United States is to meet the challenges of sustaining the river, that it first must be acknowledged that the current use and management of the river is unsustainable. He said that he has a close friendship with each senator that represents a Colorado River Basin state, and that when it comes to water policy there is no partisanship among them, it’s about working toward what is the best policy for future access to water.

The Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce is taking comments from member businesses directly impacted by our proximity to the Colorado River.

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