Bump and update: More coverage from The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):
Although he declined to provide details, Million said Tuesday that he has lined up financing for construction, which he said could start in 2013. He estimated total costs at $2.2 billion to $2.8 billion. Million has applied for a federal permit to move up to 225,000 acre-feet per year more than 400 miles from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir and the Green River in Wyoming…
Water providers in Douglas County, Brighton, Fort Collins, Loveland, Cheyenne and agricultural areas along the way have indicated interest in buying water from the Million Conservation Resource Group, according to letters filed with federal authorities.
Those potential customers’ projected water demands — and conservation practices — will be reviewed and verified to determine “how much is truly needed,” said Rena Brand, a regulatory specialist for the Army Corps of Engineers.
In its summary of the comments received from people in Wyoming, Colorado and downriver states such as Utah and Arizona that depend on Colorado River Basin water, the Corps of Engineers concluded there are major concerns about the effects of diverting water from prime Wyoming fishing and recreation areas.
“They’re concerned that the project would result in a lower elevation (of water) in Flaming Gorge Reservoir, which would impact fisheries,” Brand said. “I received very few favorable comments. Most people just had a lot of questions.”
All this “is as it should be,” Million said. “We’ve had the same concerns on our side — which we’ve looked at for the last four years,” he said. “The public should have the right and obligation to weigh in on the project.”
Update: More coverage from The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
The Corps released the comments Tuesday on its Web site as it continues the five-year process of developing an environmental impact statement for the controversial proposal…
More than 1,500 comments were received in writing; another 500 gathered at Corp-hosted public meetings last year. About 63 percent of the comments are from Wyoming, where cities, counties, conservancy districts, businesses, recreation groups and environmental or wildlife advocates oppose the project. Another 27 percent of the comments are from Colorado, where many of the same groups also oppose or raise questions about the project. Even Front Range cities like Fort Collins, where Million lives, object to the proposed pipeline route. Five percent of the comments that object or raise concerns are from Utah, where the Green River flows after leaving Flaming Gorge…
The most frequent issue cited in the comments (18 percent) is the actual availability of water for the project. The Green River and Flaming Gorge are part of the Colorado River watershed, and diversions proposed by Million could impact the seven-state Colorado River Compact, many of the comments state. Wyoming interests want to preserve development opportunities within their home state. “Any one change could upset the balance that has successfully maintained since the development of the river,” said Kenneth Fackrell, manager of the Bridger Valley Water Conservancy District.
Wyoming counties are firmly united in opposition to Million’s project, with several filing lengthy objections to it. “A trans-basin diversion of this magnitude will mean a perpetual shortage of water for basin users,” said Joe Evans, executive director of the Wyoming County Commissioners Association, who cites a 30-year record of opposition by Green River users to the leasing water to the lower basin state of California.
Socioeconomic factors were cited in about 13 percent of the comments, according to the Corps tabulation. Recreation, particularly in western Wyoming on Flaming Gorge Reservoir, was cited in 7 percent of the comments, while water rights and wildlife issues were each brought up in 5 percent of the comments. The withdrawal of water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir could hurt power production at the dam, said Pacificorp Energy Managing Director Bob Aramel…
The Corps now is verifying the potential water customers and needs submitted by Million in response to some of the comments that there were no end users identified in the proposal, said Rena Brand, regulatory specialist.
From the Associated Press via KJCT8.com:
The Corps of Engineers on Tuesday said it received more than 1,500 written public comments and more than 570 comments at public meetings about the pipeline…
The Corps took public comment on what issues it should consider in a forthcoming environmental study. Some local governments in southwestern Wyoming are opposing the project, saying it threatens fishing and recreation. Some Colorado municipalities and irrigation districts say they could use the water.