In a recent memorandum to the council, [Ashley Cantrell, a city environmental health specialist] wrote that the complete elimination of bottled water “is neither an achievable nor a manageable goal at this time.” But a campaign to promote and market Aspen tap water is doable, depending on costs, most council members agreed during Tuesday’s meeting. “Rather than target bottled water as a negative thing, we want to promote Aspen tap water as a positive thing,” Cantrell told council members.
The fierce winter did bring some good news. The vast lake [Lake Mead] is rising for only the second time since the Southwest entered a debilitating drought 12 years ago. The water is 14 feet higher so far, and is projected to rise about nine feet more from the spring’s snowmelt by the end of the current water year in September. That takes into account the expected drawdown…
Lake Mead’s water level now stands at 1,096 feet, near its lowest point since the reservoir began filling in the 1930s and 110 feet below when the drought began in 1999, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The lake last rose in 2005. Already, that low level has forced the bureau to cut power from the lake’s Hoover Dam by 20%.
Fort Collins entrepreneur Aaron Million announced plans to pursue the project five years ago, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is evaluating his proposal in an environmental impact statement. Last year, the Corps said it could take until 2018 to reach a decision, although Million remains confident he can move the timetable up. About one year ago, the Colorado-Wyoming Coalition, led by Parker Water General Manager Frank Yeager, announced its own study of the feasibility of the project. Communities with a combined population of more than 500,000 are participating in that group.
Shortly after the announcement, Drew Peternell of Colorado Trout Unlimited, published an article claiming the cost of water from Million’s project was too much for anyone but growing urban areas to afford, and suggested sticking in the fork.
Not long after that, Gary Barber, chairman of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable floated the idea of a state task force on either Flaming Gorge idea, modeled after the Fountain Creek Vision Task Force. Within the next few months, the Colorado Water Conservation Board had approved a $40,000 grant to determine whether the task force should be formed. A report is expected in June…
Million was encouraged earlier this month when one of his consultants, former State Engineer Jeris Danielson, asked Gov. John Hickenlooper about the potential for private-public partnerships to develop water projects in the state. Hickenlooper, speaking at the first State Roundtable Summit, said all options need to be considered. “I think Governor Hickenlooper understands the private-public model of cooperation better than many in state government,” Million said. Million’s plan includes setting aside some of the water, whether directly or through return flows, to serve agriculture and fill environmental needs in Colorado. But even if every drop went to cities, he sees the project as beneficial because it relieves the pressure on other water rights in Colorado. “What’s the issue? Do we continue to let water flow down the Colorado River while we dry up farms in Eastern Colorado?” Million said.
More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here. More Colorado-Wyoming Cooperative Water Project coverage here.