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House GOP Newsletter  
Monday, July 27, 2015  Like

♦Phreatophytes: funny name, but big problem in Colorado

♦In the News   ♦Tweets of the Week   ♦Capitol Pictures

Phreatophytes: funny name, big problem in Colorado

By Representative Don Coram (R-Montrose)

Like many people I have met with, you may not have heard of plants such as the Russian Olive or Tamarisk trees; they belong to a class of plants called phreatophytes. You might be thinking "phre-at-to-what"?? When I first started raising concerns about phreatophytes (pronounced "free-at-tow-fights"), that was the usual response from people at the state capitol as well. But as I started explaining how damaging and disruptive these invasive, non-native plants are to Colorado's water supply, the conversation became quite serious.

Phreatophytes are plants that consume a significant portion of water through their roots that must be in continual contact with water. If you look along most Colorado streams and rivers, you will likely see a dense, congruous line of trees or bushes along the banks–these are phreatophytes. I suppose there is a certain aesthetic appeal to them, but when you consider that just one adult Tamarisk tree consumes more than 200 gallons of water a day during the summer months, their beauty is quickly lost. 

Additionally, these plants steadily extract salt from the water which then concentrates in their leaves. During the fall and winter months, these plants drop these salt-dense leaves back into the water, disrupting the mineral balances downstream. In other words, not only do phreatophytes pilfer water, they contaminate what they don't take.

As a Western Slope state legislator, water has been a primary concern of mine throughout my five years here at the capitol. I have made addressing the growing invasion of phreatophytes part of every conversation regarding water conservation and preservation, and believe that any viable state water plan must also include an aggressive strategy to manage these water-thieving plants.

This past session, I successfully passed legislation that establishes a $2 million grant to study methods to manage phreatophytes. These grant funds will be made available when the new law takes effect on August 5th, but this is simply one small step to solving this problem. Coloradans that own property with moving waterways should familiarize themselves with these plants, and start their own conversations about mitigating phreatophytes' impact on our water supply.

When you consider just one plant consumes more water a day than the average human, phreatophytes may be as much to blame for our current water shortages as our growing population. Furthermore, the health of our agricultural industry relies heavily on water condition and availability. Couple the impact of far less water with contaminated streams, and phreatophytes should be a name everyone in Colorado remembers. 

Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter and I encourage you to address any concerns with your respective representative. You can keep up with all of our updates by following us on Twitter, liking us on Facebook or visiting


Don Coram

In the News

 Tweets of the Week 

Proud to have played a part in honoring the life and service of Sgt Baldwin. Thnx 2 &
This is a nice background and history of the U.S./Iran relationship and it seems this history was forgotten…
I always thought you were my comm director @lynn_bartels :) Congrats! RT SoS Williams names Bartels as Comm Director
I was honored to serve on a discussion panel at the Chiefs of Police Conference this morning with Representative Angela Williams and Senator Michael Johnston

Capitol Pictures

Representative J. Paul Brown (R-Ignacio) speaks at the Club 20 summer meeting on July 16. 

Representative Don Coram (R-Montrose) with fellow Interim Water Resources Committee members Representative Jeni Arndt, Senator Mary Hodge and Representative Diane Mitsch-Bush near Montrose, Colorado.  

Staff photo from the outer balcony near the top of the state capitol dome.

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