Colorado River basin: Flaming Gorge pipeline update — Million needs billions

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

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.

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