Flaming Gorge pipeline: What is the environmental cost?

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

Boulder hydrologist and environmentalist Dan Luecke and the pipeline’s inventor, Fort Collins entrepreneur Aaron Million, faced off in attempt to answer [environmental questions] Wednesday night at the University of Wyoming…

[Aaron] Million reiterated his view that the pipeline – a public-private partnership – would keep Front Range farms operating, provide a plethora of wind and hydropower development opportunities and prevent the fragile Green River ecosystem from being harmed. If the project proves to be environmentally unsound, he said, the pipeline should not be built.

Environmentalists are concerned the pipeline could harm endangered fish in the Green River, potentially forcing water to be diverted from pipeline users to put more water back into the river for the fish. Leucke called the pipeline “one of the most damaging kinds of water projects I can conceive of” because it would pump water above the Continental Divide from one river system to another to be consumed by growing Front Range communities…Environmentalists want the South Platte and Arkansas river systems to be managed more efficiently with an eye toward water conservation, and Million’s pipeline could encourage them to do otherwise, Leucke said.

Million countered, saying users of water from the pipeline will be mandated to comply with water conservation restrictions.

Just as serious, Leucke said, is the expense of the water from the project. He said Colorado water officials have estimated pipeline water would cost about $2,200 per acre-foot, while new water projects within Colorado could deliver water for $800 per acre-foot…

“I think the numbers we’ve been talking about didn’t look at any sort of climate variability scenarios yet,” [Former Wyoming State Engineer Jeff Fassett] said, adding that the Army Corps of Engineers will study the matter more thoroughly.

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.

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