Flaming Gorge pipeline: Water for Glade Reservoir?

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Here’s an update on Aaron Million’s proposed pipeline from the Green River (Flaming Gorge) to Colorado’s Front Range and points south, from JoAn Bjarko writing for the North Forty News. The Corps of Engineers is calling the project the “Regional Wateshed Supply Project.” From the article:

Million is hopeful that the Army Corps will issue a final decision by fall 2011. The Fort Collins scoping meeting will be held April 20 at Fossil Ridge High School, 5400 Ziegler Road, from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Other meetings will be held in Green River, Wyo.; Vernal, Utah; Laramie, Wyo.; Denver and Pueblo. The Corps will accept written comments for scoping until May 19.

At this stage, the Corps is preparing an environmental impact statement to analyze the direct, indirect and cumulative effects of the proposed water supply project in Wyoming and Colorado. The project proposes to provide about 250,000 acre-feet per year of new annual firm yield to meet a portion of the projected water supply needs of southeastern Wyoming and the Front Range of Colorado…

Million said he has had recent discussions with major municipalities to purchase water delivered through the pipeline. Agriculture could also benefit, he said. In particular, Million sees the opportunity for the pipeline to deliver water to the proposed Glade Reservoir near the mouth of Poudre Canyon so that no water would be diverted from the Poudre River. “It would be a win for the entire region,” he said. “We could fill the reservoir consistently.”[…]

Water storage is currently anticipated at Lake Hattie Reservoir, located west of Laramie; the proposed Cactus Hill Reservoir site, located northeast of Fort Collins; and the proposed T-Cross Reservoir site, located north of Pueblo. A new regulating reservoir would be located near the Green River end of the pipeline system. Water treatment facilities would be a part of the intake system and water storage reservoirs.

More information about the project is available on the Corps web site at https://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/html/od-tl/eis-info.htm

More coverage from the Colorado Springs Gazette (R. Scott Rappold):

Water suppliers here aren’t banking on the $2 billion to $3 billion pipeline being built. “Physically, it’s feasible. Politically, that is a whole different question,” said Kip Petersen, general manager of Cherokee Metropolitan District…

“I think there are political issues. There are legal issues. There are technical issues to move water that far. Clearly Mr. Million has hurdles to clear,” said Gary Bostrom, water resources manager for Colorado Springs Utilities. Utilities officials did not embrace the idea after meeting with Million in recent years…

“We just think it’s a scam. The water is not there,” said Eric Kuhn, manager of the Colorado River Conservation District, a consortium of 15 Western Slope counties.

“It’s going to foreclose other water users,” said Drew Peternell, with Trout Unlimited. The group is also worried how taking the water would impact endangered fish in the Green River…

Million says critics won’t halt the project. And while some question his ability to pull together private funding, he said if the corps issues a favorable record of decision, he’ll get the funding. “Absolutely it’s going to happen. It’s really just an issue of timing at this point. Someone would have to come up with a reason why it’s not realistic. To date we’ve heard nothing,” he said. He likened his effort to Colorado’s early water pioneers, who trudged into the hills to find water for burgeoning settlements. “The difference between what we’re doing versus what they did in the 1890s is we’ve just got a little bigger mule team and sled than they did,” Million said.

But there are a host of regulations and agencies that weren’t in place then, and getting approval for a major water project can be long and difficult. Colorado Springs Utilities’ proposed $1.1 billion Southern Delivery System pipeline is one-tenth of the distance of Million’s plan, and it took five years and a $17 million environmental study to get a record of decision from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold public meetings on the proposed pipeline April 21 at West High School, 951 Elati St., Denver, and April 22 at Risle Middle School, 625 N. Monument Ave. in Pueblo. Both will be 6:30 to 9 p.m.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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