Flaming Gorge Pipeline: Wyoming opposition growing and getting organized

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Wyoming residents are organizing to oppose Aaron Million’s Regional Water Supply Project calling it the “Wyoming water grab.” Here’s a report from Joan Barron writing for the Casper Star Tribune. Of course Million Conservation Resources Group and the lesser known project the Colorado-Wyoming Coalition intend to move water that Colorado is entitled to under the Colorado River Compact using a clause in the Upper Colorado River Basin Compact that allows one state to move their water through another state. However — as Eric Kuhn (Colorado River District) keeps pointing out — the water may not be there to develop. If Colorado develops all of the water left in the Green River before Wyoming the Cowboy State may never get their water. That’s part of the motivation for another reservoir to store Wyoming’s share. From the article:

Wyoming people are paying plenty of attention to reports of the latest Wyoming water grab…

Southwest Wyoming residents emphatically oppose the project as evidenced by their testimony at a public meeting sponsored by the U.S. Corps of Engineers in Green River more than a week ago. Dan Budd, a Big Piney rancher, member of the Wyoming Water Development Commission and a former legislator, attended that hearing. Never shy about expressing his opinion, Budd said it was the worst conducted public meeting he ever sat through and he has sat through plenty. “They didn’t have speaker systems, they didn’t recognize the people trying to participate and they cut the meeting an hour short,” Budd said last week.

For some time Budd has pushed for construction of another reservoir on the Green River to impound Wyoming’s share of unallocated water under the 1922 Colorado River Compact. The amount of the unused Green River water is 300,000 to 400,000 acre feet…

During a meeting of the commission last year, Budd made a motion for the state to file for a permit for a reservoir site at Warren Bridge on the Green River. The filing would give the state a priority date. He said his motion failed by one vote. He said opponents said the state could never get a permit for the reservoir…

That is what happened with the Big Sandstone Reservoir. The Corps of Engineers refused to permit the reservoir because the state could not identify a need and purpose for all the water that would be stored. The reservoir was too big. It was ultimately shrunk and built as the Little Sandstone, or High Savory Reservoir, in the Little Snake River Valley. Budd contends the state should be able to define a use for the Green River water given a decade of drought and healthy population growth in Rock Springs. Moreover, he said, a group of Colorado government entities, headquartered in Evergreen, also is working on a plan to grab Wyoming water. Members of this group already have talked to the state engineer about filing for a permit for a dam, Budd added. With a two-pronged threat, Budd wants protection for Wyoming’s water…

Given that the Corps of Engineers study on the trans-basin diversion Front Range project could take years, the state has time to try to ward off the water grab. “We’re working hard to be sure they don’t,” Purcell said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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