Million pipeline project: Corps of Engineers to hold Wyoming ‘scoping’ meetings April 14th and 16th

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Here’s an update on Aaron Million’s plans to build a pipeline from the Green River in Wyoming (Flaming Gorge) to the Front Range and points south, from Jeff Gearino writing for the Casper Star Tribune. From the article:

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials said this week the agency is beginning work on an environmental impact statement that will analyze the impacts of the proposed regional water supply project. Army Corps project manager Rena Brand said the agency has scheduled public “scoping” meetings in Green River on April 14 and Laramie on April 16 to discuss the project…

The pipeline would deliver about 250,000 acre feet of water to points as far south as Pueblo, according to project plans. The pipeline would operate on a perpetual basis through 2030 and beyond. The water would be obtained from the Green River Basin as part of the unused portion of water allocated to the state of Wyoming and Colorado under the Upper Colorado River Compact, according to plans. In Wyoming, about 25,000 acre feet of water would be delivered annually to users in the Platte River Basin. The remaining 225,000 acre feet of water would be delivered annually to the South Platte River and Arkansas River basins in Colorado. The most conservative estimates predict it would take five years or more to permit and build the pipeline once it overcomes significant political and logistical hurdles…

Drawing water from Flaming Gorge — which can hold up to 3.8 million acre feet of water — and the Green River would affect few irrigators and other water users, Million contends…

The potential water users for the proposed project would include agriculture, municipalities and industries in southeastern Wyoming and Colorado’s Front Range, according to an Army Corps notice in the Federal Register. Two water withdrawal facilities would be constructed as part of the project. One would be located on the east side of the Flaming Gorge Reservoir and the other on the east bank of the Green River, about 200 feet downstream from the boundary of the national wildlife refuge. A water treatment storage reservoir would also be constructed near the Green River intake system, according to plans. The water pipeline system would be about 560 miles long and would feature three water storage/flow regulation reservoirs along the route, including one in Wyoming at Lake Hattie west of Laramie. Officials said 16 natural gas-powered pump stations would also be constructed. Brand said the agency will examine a full range of reasonable alternatives as part of the environmental impact study, including alternatives with different withdrawal points or only one withdrawal point, and alternative storage reservoir locations.

Update: More background from Joy Ufford writing for the Sublette Examiner:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) recently published its notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposal by Aaron Million, of the Million Conservation Resource Group (MCRG), to build the proposed “Regional Watershed Supply Project” (RWSP) and pull about 250,000 acre-feet of new water a year to his customers. The planned EIS will “analyze the direct, indirect and cumulative effects of a proposed water-supply project in Wyoming and Colorado,” states the ACE notice…

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation would have to give Million a contract to withdraw water directly from Flaming Gorge and he would also need federal approval to cross public lands with the pipeline. The proposal also includes a water storage treatment reservoir near the Green River intake system, a water pipeline from 72 to 102 inches in diameter and about 560 miles long, a regulating reservoir at the pipeline’s western end, about 16 natural gas-powered pump stations along the pipeline route, temporary and permanent access roads and three water-storage/flow-regulation reservoirs (at Lake Hattie west of Laramie and the proposed Cactus Hill and T-Cross reservoirs in Colorado). Outlet structures at each reservoir would have water treatment facilities, onsite transformers, overhead power lines and water delivery systems to his water users, it says…

Million applied to the Wyoming State Engineer’s Office (SEO) for two permits, 15 months ago, which are still under review and will likely bring about public hearings and comment periods, according to State Engineer Pat Tyrrell. One is to divert water from the Green and the other is to use his proposed pipeline for Wyoming water use, Tyrrell said. The water sold to Wyomingites would count against the state’s apportionment, he added, just as the water piped to Colorado customers would count toward that state’s historic allocation. While the SEO permit to withdraw water does not require an environmental analysis or public hearings, the proposal is sensitive enough that the SEO plans to schedule meetings later this summer or fall, he said. “They were told from early on we would probably have hearings because of the size, nature and potential controversy that surrounds (the diversion and pipeline proposed),” he said.

Million has proposed four points for withdrawal to the SEO – three in the Green and one on the banks of Flaming Gorge. “We’re getting a lot of questions,” Tyrrell said. “There are concerns – can it be done without hindering Wyoming’s remainder of (its) portion?” Wyoming’s role is choosing whether or not to grant the two requested permits ‘is “only a smaller part of the much larger approval process,” he said. “We would be one domino in a much larger string.” Even assuming the SEO approved his permits, Tyrrell added, “That’s no green light for (Million).” The concept is “allowable” – but the project’s size is very “unusual,” he said…

ACE meetings in Wyoming will be held in Green River April 14, 6:30 to 9 p.m., at the Green River High School and April 16, 6:30 to 9 p.m. in Laramie at the Laramie High School. The public is invited to provide scoping input and comments through May 19. The notice is available at http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/20#89F78. Address questions and comments on the proposal and EIS to Ms. Rena Brand, Project Manager, US Army Corps of Engineers, Denver Regulatory Office, 9307 S. Wadsworth Blvd., Littleton, CO 80128-6901; (303) 979-4120; mrcg.eis@usace.army.mil.

The Upper Green River Basin Joint Powers Board, representing Sublette, Lincoln and Sweetwater counties, has invited a coalition of concerned Wyoming and Colorado groups to meet but hasn’t “managed to nail down a date yet,” said board member Randy Bolgiano of Boulder.

The Wyoming Water Development Commission has scheduled an April 30 meeting with the Green River Basin Advisory Group and the coalition, 6 p.m. at the White Mountain Library in Rock Springs, to discuss the Million proposal.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

3 thoughts on “Million pipeline project: Corps of Engineers to hold Wyoming ‘scoping’ meetings April 14th and 16th

  1. What a lot of people don’t realized is that the Green River Basin has been in a severe drought for that last several years and it is a stretch that most of our reservoir reach close to a 100% capacity for even a few weeks during the year. The Flaming Gorge Reservoir is one of the areas recreation mainstays,if this project were allowed to proceed, the level of this reservoir as well as others would drop to levels that would not sustain recreational and agricultural activies at there current levels. Maybe Mr. Million’s should consider a pipeline to the Gulf of Mexico and invest in a Desalinization plant. This is our water and if Colorado or any other State whats use of it they can wait until it flows in to their State via it’s natural conduit.

    • Don,

      You wrote, “This is our water and if Colorado or any other State whats use of it they can wait until it flows in to their State via it’s natural conduit.”

      I just wanted to say that in the west water is separated from the land by law or state constitution. The Upper Colorado River Compact allows any compact state to transport water across another state in order to use its allocation under the compact. That’s what Million and the Colorado-Wyoming Coalition plan to do. The Green River flows in and out of Colorado in Moffat County.

  2. An insane idea that is so out of touch with the reality on the ground that its laughable. Let us hope that this absurd idea can be strangled while its still in the cradle.

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