Here’s an editorial call to arms from the Sky-Hi Daily News asking residents on the rainy side of Colorado to help stop the proposed project from Denver Water. From the piece:
So, we’d like to suggest a resounding “no” from this side of the Continental Divide, as in “no” to more transmountain diversions from the already-depleted Upper Colorado River. Surely that will elicit gasps from the other side of the hill in particular, as it would likely entail deviation from more than a century of Colorado water law. Then again, perhaps it’s high time for the sake of the greater state we did deviate from certain anachronistic practices, transbasin diversions being a prime example.
No one can honestly argue that in 1890, when the Grand Ditch first deprived the Colorado River of its very headwaters, that anyone was, in a legal sense, adequately representing the interests of the West Slope, much less interests that prevail today. Ditto when the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, which was supposed to help Front Range irrigators, not municipalities, began sending water to Northern Colorado. As for Denver Water’s catch-all canal in the Fraser River drainage and pipeline through the Moffat Tunnel, it is nothing short of an environmental tragedy on this side of the Divide.
Conditional water rights, such as those proposed for “firming” in Denver Water’s Moffat Project and Northern’s Windy Gap Firming Project, are particularly suspect in light of current realities in the Colorado River drainage. More than 60 percent of the native flows in this region already have been sent packing to the other side of the Continental Divide. As if that weren’t sufficiently disturbing, projects on the board would raise that ante to 72 percent of the Fraser River. Moreover, both these projects anticipate diverting water to the Front Range for storage in reservoirs there, thus depriving the West Slope not only of its natural heritage, but also of any chance to benefit from flat-water recreation that could be developed…
At the very least, Denver Water should be forced to mitigate the impacts of any further diversions from the Fraser Valley, where a seriously depleted river already represents the ultimate limit to development, and a once-world class fishery teeters on the brink. In addition, Denver’s project and the Windy Gap Project are being considered as though they are in a vacuum, which of course they are not. If the interests of this region are to be represented once and for all, these projects must be considered in concert, just as their impacts will be felt in concert from Lake Granby to the Utah border.
More Moffat Collection System Project coverage here.