This year, the University of Colorado Boulder athletic department and its Environmental Center have restored 11 million gallons of water back into the Colorado River through a project called Water for the West. This project is part of a larger initiative called Change the Course which is responsible for returning nearly 5 billion gallons of water to receding rivers around the nation. 
Since 2000, the Colorado River’s water level has dropped more than 130 feet, depleting a very valuable resource.  Throughout the years, the river has gotten so low that it is no longer able to reach the Sea of Cortez. More than 400 species of plants and animals that once thrived in the river’s delta are on the edge of extinction. 
People realized the threat and decided to take action. Consuming close to 12 million gallons of water each year, CU Boulder athletics chose to give this resource back to the community. Used for both human consumption and operations, “the Colorado River Basin isn’t only important to those companies and people living in the basin, it’s actually important to the entire country and internationally frankly” said Val Fishman, Chief Development Officer for Bonneville Environmental Foundation according to an article on Boulder Weekly. 
Change the Course was founded in 2011 by Sandra Postel from National Geographic, and Todd Reeves, VP of Bonnevilee Environmental Foundation to promote hands-on water conservation. Residents were asked to pledge that they would recycle more and reduce their water footprint. For each pledge they received, 1,000 gallons of water was promised to be returned to the Colorado River. Boulder was able to save millions of gallons by targeting conservation pledges that attended basketball games. 
With CU Boulder athletics able to give back the water they used from the river, other schools are likely to follow in the efforts. Stanford University, University of Utah, Arizona State University, and the University of Arizona have all shown interest in replenishing dwindling resources. These schools teaming up with Change the Course could fill dry river beds while also lowering their water use and saving them money.
 Putzig, Mollie. CU Athletics Wants Water Back in the Colorado. Boulder Weekly, Jul 7, 2016. Web. http://www.boulderweekly.com/boulderganic/cu-athletics-wants-water-back-in-the-colorado/  Zielinski, Sarah. The Colorado River Runs Dry. Smithsonian, Oct, 2010. Web. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/the-colorado-river-runs-dry-61427169/?no-ist  St. Clair, Jeffrey & Cockburn, Alexander. Why the Colorado Doesn’t Meet the Sea. Counter Punch, Mar 14, 2001. Web. http://www.counterpunch.org/2001/03/14/why-the-colorado-river-doesn-t-meet-the-sea/