Flaming Gorge pipeline: Corps of Engineers scoping sessions

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Here’s a recap of last week’s Corps of Engineers scoping session for the Regional Watershed Supply Project, from by Mary Bernard writing for the Vernal Express:

Public speakers offered a decidedly negative response to the proposal. Apparently, the measured reaction of the local speakers was a sharp contrast to the previous evening’s scoping meeting in Green River, Wyoming. “There, I felt like Dr. Frankenstein before the hostile villagers,” said Aaron Million, the Colorado-based developer. “Not here.”[…]

Worse still, in a drought of unknown length how can the region be asked to provide a firm yield of 250,000 acre-feet? As one Daggett County resident noted “even the Bureau of Reclamation’s statistics state that only 13 years out of 40 years of flow have produced 250,000 acre-feet.”

Amplifying his comments, Ed Peterson spoke on behalf of the Uintah County commission stating their opposition to the proposed project. “The project amounts to a raid on the Basin’s water,” said Peterson. If a 500-mile pipeline from Flaming Gorge can be built to deliver water to the Front Range then why not take it from the Mississippi or Missouri Basins 500 miles to the east?”[…]

Several residents noted that Colorado’s actions would foreclose on water development on the Western Slope. “Residents of the Yampa and White river basins would not be able to develop their water,” said a Colorado resident, noting the complete absence of meetings planned for these areas. None of the alternatives for project development include developing water conservation efforts for the Colorado Front Range in light of their shortfall.

Several Daggett County speakers pointed to their economic dependence on the recreation industry on the reservoir and the river below the dam. “The impact of low flows on the fisheries economy will be devastating,” says Jeff Taniguchi, Blue Ribbon Fisheries Advisory Council member. It was noted that fluctuations in water levels would affect the quality of flows and also spawning fish…

Not to mention river rafting trips on the lower Green, which Ted Hatch, of Hatch River Expeditions said “would become history.”

More coverage of the Denver scoping session from the Denver Post.

Here’s a recap of Monday’s scoping session in Fort Collins, from Fort Collins Now (Rebecca Boyle):

Many residents who offered opinions said they were concerned the Green River is already too dewatered. Duane Keown, a retired professor at the University of Wyoming, has fished the Green River for 30 years, and in the past five years, he’s seen one of his state’s largest campgrounds stay empty because of drought. “The Green River, truthfully, folks, does not have any extra water,” he said. “If you look at the prognostications over the next 35 years, there are more droughts on the way.”

Others said they wanted the Army Corps to examine other water storage proposals, including the proposed Glade Reservoir project, or even pipelines that would bring water from the frequently flooded Midwest back toward the Rockies. Still others said they wouldn’t support a project that would allow for more growth in arid Colorado…

He said a new water source would diversify the Front Range’s water portfolio, and would help prevent drying up of agricultural land, not to mention draining local rivers to meet municipal water needs. He even sported a savethepoudre.org sticker, hoping to convince Glade opponents that drawing water from the Western Slope would negate the need to drain the Poudre River. “This may be the key to alleviating some of the issues that they see,” he said.

But Gary Wockner, a spokesman for the Save the Poudre Coalition, hinted that Poudre people in Fort Collins would stand with their compatriots in Wyoming. “I’m very happy that you support the Save the Poudre Coalition, and thank you for wearing the sticker tonight,” he said, “but the idea that we would take water out of the Green River and potentially put in the Poudre is sort of a rob Peter to pay Paul scenario, and I don’t think that makes a lot of environmental sense.”[…]

Wockner asked the Corps to consider adding the Million project to its list of potential alternatives to NISP and other water storage projects like the Windy Gap Firming Project; proposed expansions to Halligan and Seaman reservoirs; and others. Million said that would be up to the Corps, but he hoped the Glade opponents would support his project as a more environmentally friendly alternative. “What we have found, to date, is that we have a surplus water supply that can be used to mitigate other impacts on the region,” he said. “We think this is by far the least environmentally damaging alternative out there.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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