Flaming Gorge pipeline update: The Colorado Environmental Coalition, et al., want the state to nix public funds for the Flaming Gorge Task Force

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“Creating the Flaming Gorge pipeline would cost billions of dollars we don’t have, it would deliver water at a price that nobody can afford, and it would land a devastating blow to our environment,” said Elise Jones, executive director of Colorado Environmental Coalition. “Now, the proponents of this project want the state to spend $150,000 of taxpayer dollars on an unnecessary process to push the project forward.” Jones referred to a proposal by the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority requesting $150,000 from the Water Supply Reserve Account from the Colorado Water Conservation Board for a Flaming Gorge pipeline exploration committee. The proposal also includes $40,000 from basin roundtable accounts, making its total $190,000. The CWCB is expected to consider the grant proposal in September. The Pikes Peak Water Authority is not one of the proponents of the project, originally proposed by Fort Collins entrepreneur Aaron Million. The Colorado-Wyoming Coalition, made up of water providers in both states, also is looking at its own version of the plan. The coalition is led by Frank Jaeger, manager of Parker Water and Sanitation, and includes Donala, which also is a member of the Pikes Peak Water Authority…

Regardless of who would be interested in developing the pipeline, the environmental groups say it would be a waste of state resources to engage in any studies. “Coloradans need to know about this boondoggle,” said Bill Dvorak, a Salida-based river outfitter. “People in this state recognize the need for balanced water supply policies that preserve what’s best about Colorado — this pipeline does not meet that standard.” The environmental groups say the pipeline would result in irreparable environmental impacts on Flaming Gorge Reservoir and the Green River below the reservoir and further drain the Colorado River.

From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

Save the Poudre and a group of 19 other environmental organizations led by Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates and the Colorado Environmental Coalition announced Tuesday they oppose any state funding for the task force. The groups are hosting a “telephone town hall” at 7 p.m. today, which will allow residents from all over the state to hear why conservation groups oppose a Flaming Gorge pipeline and ask questions about it.

“The point is to discourage the state Water Conservation Board from spending any funding or tax dollars on studying the project any further,” said Western Resource Advocates water program manager Bart Miller. He said the pipeline could cost $9 billion and be one of the most expensive and environmentally damaging water projects in Colorado history…

Save the Poudre Executive Director Gary Wockner said the state should be spending its resources studying less divisive solutions to Colorado’s water challenges. He said that because it’s unclear whether there’s enough water available in the Colorado River Basin for a pipeline to extract 250,000 acre feet of water annually, the pipeline could spark a water war throughout the West. The Green River is part of the Colorado River Basin…

A Flaming Gorge pipeline also is opposed by the Colorado River Water Conservation District whose officials worry that there is too little water in the Green River to support a pipeline.

Million said Tuesday the Regional Watershed Supply Project was designed to keep plenty of water in the Green River for Flaming Gorge and downstream uses. “There’s still ample water for the project to move forward,” he said, adding that if major environmental problems are found with the project, it shouldn’t be built…

Conservation groups opposing the pipeline and the task force include Colorado Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, the Wilderness Society, the Colorado Whitewater Association, Environment Colorado, the National Parks Conservation Association and about a dozen others.

More coverage from David O. Williams writing for the Colorado Independent. From the article:

… [A] coalition of environmental groups will conduct a “telephone town hall” at 7 tonight that’s expected to draw thousands of Coloradans concerned about the proposed Flaming Gorge Pipeline that would transport at least 250,000 acre feet (81 billion gallons) of water a year from the Green River and Flaming Gorge Reservoir in southwestern Wyoming over the Continental Divide to the Front Range of Colorado. Go to the Western Resource Advocates website for more information on tonight’s town hall.

More Flaming Gorge Task Force coverage here.

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