Flaming Gorge pipeline: Douglas County Commissioners are on board for the project no matter who builds it

A picture named flaminggorgepipelinemillion.jpg

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A conflict between entrepreneur Aaron Million and the South Metro Water Supply Authority has spilled over into the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ evaluation of a 560-mile pipeline proposed from Flaming Gorge Reservoir to Colorado’s Front Range. After Douglas County commissioners wrote a letter expressing interest in the project, South Metro President Charlie Krogh and Executive Director Rod Kuharich sent a letter to the Corps saying the district has “no interest” in the Million Project. “The South Metro Water Supply Authority future water supply plans do not include, nor do we wish to be considered part of this project,” the letter stated…

Last year, Million accused Parker Water Director Frank Jaeger and the South Metro district of attempting to “high-jack” the project.

Douglas County commissioners in a Dec. 29 letter to the Corps said the project would be interested in 40,000 acre-feet from the proposed Flaming Gorge pipeline. It was one of a series of letters identifying the need for more than 375,000 acre-feet of municipal or agricultural water in Colorado and Wyoming…

[Commissioner Steve Boand] confirmed that Douglas County remains interested in any water supply that brings in more water. “We view the Flaming Gorge Project(s) as a single enterprise regardless of whether it is called the ‘Million’ or ‘Jaeger’ project,” Boand said.

Meanwhile the project’s visionary, Aaron Million, is touting the potential for preventing ag dry-ups as a reason that the Arkansas Valley should get on board, according to Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“The project has tremendous benefits to preventing ag dry-ups,” said Aaron Million, who heads a group of investors hoping to build the 560-mile pipeline. “The water coming into the Arkansas River basin would have conservation restrictions that would benefit agriculture.”[…]

“This is a tremendous opportunity to alleviate pressure on the water supply around Denver and up north,” Million said, adding this would also reduce the chances of more diversions from the Arkansas basin. “The Corps of Engineers has agreed to move the project forward. This is without question the largest base of water users in Colorado that has come together for a project.”[…]

Million wants to develop the project privately, but tailor its use for public benefit, in the same way toll roads like E-470 have been developed. Private efficiencies can reduce costs and clear hurdles that have stifled public water development, Million said. “Other projects have been postponed because they rely on public funding,” he said.

Tim Walsh, a partner in the project, said the comments raised during the Corps scoping period already have changed the project. The route of the pipeline will come from the west side near the northern end of Flaming Gorge Reservoir, hooking up with a river intake just above the reservoir, but below Green River. That eliminates other points above Green River and a southerly route that would take water from the southern part of Flaming Gorge Reservoir near the dam. “The route we’re looking at addresses about 85 percent of the negative comments,” Walsh said.

Because the water is coming in from another basin, there would be increased reliability of supply. Also, once the water is used in Colorado, the return flows could benefit downstream users because imported water can be used to extinction. There also are possibilities for hydroelectric power generation because of the drop in elevation of 3,500 feet at one point along the pipeline route as it moves from Lake Hattie in Wyoming to the South Platte River, and again as the pipeline drops after crossing the Palmer Divide into the Arkansas River basin.

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.

Leave a Reply