Flaming Gorge pipeline (Regional Watershed Supply Project): Wyoming commenters still overwhelmingly against the project

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From KRDO.com:

Sweetwater County residents and local municipal officials emphasized once again to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that they believe the privately funded water diversion project will have no real benefits for southwest Wyoming. About 80 area residents attended the second, added Army Corps scoping meeting on the proposed pipeline project Tuesday night in Rock Springs. That was less than the 300 who showed up for the first meeting in April in the county, but their opposition was just as strident. Residents said diverting the water could hurt local industry, could curtail future growth and could threaten a world-class fishery.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Custer County: Augmentation plan public hearings

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From the Wet Mountain Tribune (Nora Drenner):

All interested persons are invited to provide input during two upcoming public hearings regarding a water augmentation plan that the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District is proposing to bring to the county. Both public hearings will take place Wednesday, June 17. The first one is slated for 1 p.m. in the Custer County courthouse. A second public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. in the Wetmore fire station…

Local UAWCD board members Bob Senderhauf and Bill Donley have also been invited to address the group and will be prepared to answer questions. The purpose of the public hearings is to seek input from the community. UAWCD officials gave an overview of the proposed water augmentation plan late last month. At that time, UAWCD manager Terry Scanga and UAWCD engineer Ivan Walters indicated the plan would be submitted to water court by June 30. New Colorado regulations regarding the filing of water cases goes into effect July 1.

Precipitation (runoff) news

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From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Pamel Dickman):

National Weather Service spotter Chris Knoetgen has recorded 9.94 inches of precipitation at his Loveland home so far this year — only 1.51 inches less than he recorded in all of 2008. At the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s Loveland station, 7 inches have fallen so far — half of the average for the year…

On Tuesday, Boyd Lake was 53.2 feet at its deepest — 3.6 feet away from being full — and still filling, said Ron Brinkman, general manager of the Greeley-Loveland Irrigation Co. His company manages the water in Boyd and Lake Loveland, which also is within inches of being full…

As of Wednesday, Carter had reached 92 percent of capacity, and Horsetooth was sitting at 83 percent, higher than in recent years, according to [Brian Werner, spokesman for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District]. The high levels are mostly because of rains, and there is still plenty of snow in the mountains to melt and run down the rivers, Werner pointed out.

Steve Glazer: ‘There are a plethora of poison pills here’

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Here’s a nice roundup of the current state of Front Range supply plans, from the Durango Telegraph. From the article:

Mountain towns in the Rockies have a symbiotic relationship with Denver and other cities along Colorado’s urbanized, Front Range corridor. It is typically also one of ambivalence. But the need of Front Range cities for water causes continuing tension, with reverberations as far away as Jackson, Wyo.

Native water supplies were proving inadequate even 125 years ago, when farmers discovered they had insufficient water during late summer to finish their crops. To accommodate their needs, creeks from the western side off the Continental Divide, in the area of Rocky Mountain National Park, were diverted eastward. Since then, the headwaters areas from Granby southward to Winter Park, Breckenridge, Vail and Aspen, have become configured with an intricate labyrinth of ditches, reservoirs, canals and tunnels, all with the intent of achieving what historian (and Telluride native) David Lavender described as a “massive violation of geography.”

The drought of 2002 provoked an even greater intensity of focus. So do projections that show the state’s population doubling by the year 2050, with four-fifths of that growth occurring along the Front Range.

One idea still being studied calls for pumping water from Green Mountain Reservoir, located on the Blue River, about 20 miles away to Dillon Reservoir for diversion to Denver. A compensatory dam on the Eagle River west of Vail might be the quid pro quo to the Western Slope.

Other ideas look at more distant sources. Aaron Million proposes to withdraw water from the Green River, which starts in Wyoming’s Wind River Range, an hour or two south of Jackson. The river briefly enters Colorado before continuing down to a confluence with the Colorado River near Moab. As such, Million says, Colorado is entitled to the water from the Green as per river compacts reached in 1922 and 1948. But Wyoming isn’t so sure. Even people in Jackson, who would be unaffected, have been testy about the idea.

Another idea calls for a diversion from the Yampa River, about 65 miles west of Steamboat Springs. The Yampa is tributary to the Green.

Still another thought sees a potential water source in Blue Mesa Reservoir, west of Gunnison. The water, some 200,000 acre-feet annually, might not actually be withdrawn from the reservoir; but the water stored within the reservoir might be appropriated for diversion to the Front Range.

Recently, reports theCrested Butte News, state representatives visited water district officials in the Gunnison area to talk about the long-term big picture. Harris Sherman, the executive director of the state’s Department of Natural Resources, said the state needed to be looking “20, 30, 40 years out.”

Complicating the picture is the likelihood of reduced water supplies because of warming temperatures and changed precipitation patterns. While scientists remain uncertain, one study at Colorado State University sees a 2 to 20 percent reduction in flows of the upper Colorado River, Sherman noted.

None of the world’s problems were solved at the meeting. But, from the report in theNews, it was an uncommonly good one for quotes. Consider the remarks of Steve Glazer, a long-time water activist from Crested Butte. “There are a plethora of poison pills here,” he said.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.