Colorado River Cooperative Agreement: The Moffat Collection System Project will divert an additional 15% of Upper Colorado River flows

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Update: I incorrectly attributed the article. Mr. Neubecker is not representing Trout Unlimited’s views in the article but those of his organization, the Western Rivers Institute. Thanks to a Coyote Gulch reader for pointing this out.

Western River’s Institute’s Trout Unlimited’s Ken Neubecker has penned a guest column running in the Vail Daily about the things the Colorado River didn’t get from the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement. Here’s an excerpt:

If anyone is a loser in this, it is the river itself. Although the agreement claims to have provisions that will help the rivers, that’s not as accurate as it could be. Yes, lots of money, cooperation and a small amount of water for environmental “enhancement” are provided. But far more water will still be taken from the river than is left to flow in its starved channel. The agreement does not address or acknowledge that more than 60 percent of the Fraser and upper Colorado are already being diverted to the Front Range. The Moffat Expansion will take an additional 15 percent or more on top of that. With that much of the native flows removed, making about 1 percent available for “environmental enhancement,” as this agreement does, won’t go far to help the river, much less improve it.

The agreement does not deal with the impacts from the Moffat and Windy Gap expansion. Future diversions by Denver Water and others are not ruled out. Even with cooperation, the upper Colorado and Fraser could still be drained of their last drop.

Neither this agreement nor the potential mitigations proposed to the Division of Wildlife deal with the damage already done from more than a hundred years of diversions. Yet everyone pats themselves on the back for a job well done and goes back to work, never really admitting what has been lost.

Here’s another guest column written by John Berggren running in The Denver Post. From the article:

In an era of constrained water supplies threatened further by climate change, the precedent should not be building more diversions or pipelines. It should be water governance that recognizes no more new water is available and limitless supply is a thing of the past. This is not an argument for limiting growth. In fact, some cities in the Southwest have shown the ability to reduce overall water consumption while adding population. It can be done. Instead, this is an argument that conservation, smart planning, and cooperation needs to be the first thought in water management, not diversions and pipelines. The Colorado River Cooperative Agreement is a step in this direction. The agreement includes increased conservation and reuse by Denver Water; water planning that includes environmental needs in a long- term, statewide framework; and collaboration with entities on both sides of the divide.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

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