‘Communities Protecting the Green River’ file objections to Wyco Water and Power’s proposed Flaming Gorge pipeline

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From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Bobby Magill):

Rock Springs, Wyo.-based Communities Protecting the Green River was the first to lodge objections to Fort Collins entrepreneur Aaron Million’s Regional Watershed Supply Project.

The group includes the cities of Green River and Rock Springs, Wyo. and Sweetwater County, Wyo.

“In reality, it is an investment scheme masquerading as a water supply project, which is masquerading as a pump-back hydropower project,” Don Hartley, the group’s vice-chairman, wrote in a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Dec. 9…

“This project is portrayed as a hydropower project, but pumping water over the Continental Divide will require more energy than can be generated from the fall of the water on the east side (of the divide),” Hartley wrote.

He added that consideration of such a massive water pipeline is premature because a federal study of the amount of water available to be consumed by growing communities in the Green River-Colorado River watershed is ongoing.

More coverage from the Associated Press via the Billings Gazette. Here’s an excerpt:

Many in western Wyoming say they’re concerned the project would draw down Flaming Gorge Reservoir. The city of Green River has joined the city of Rock Springs and Sweetwater County to fight Million’s proposal.

Green River Mayor Hank Castillon said Monday that residents are unified in opposition to the project. “They just don’t want to see Wyoming water going to Colorado,” Castillon said. “The main issues are recreational, and they feel that it’s going to affect their lifestyle as far as sporting events and water because we have the Flaming Gorge here also the fishing up and down the Green River, fish habitat.”[…]

Million filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this summer spelling out plans to construct a system of turbines and reservoirs along the pipeline to generate electricity. While he has said the project wouldn’t generate more electricity than pumping the water would consume, he said generation would help cover its pumping costs. He wants to construct a reservoir on the slopes of Sheep Mountain, west of Laramie, and generate electricity by pumping water into the reservoir and having it flow through turbines on its way downstream to another lake nearby, Lake Hattie…

Steve Jones, watershed protection program attorney with the Wyoming Outdoor Council in Lander, said his group is concerned with the prospect of such large-scale pumping out of the Green River. “It’s obvious to me that some years, there is not going to be any water available, and other years there might,” Jones said. “But to me, the idea that, that reservoir could supply that year in and year out, is just wrong, according to the statistics that I’ve looked at.”[…]

Duane Short, wild species program director with the Biodiversity Conservation Alliance in Laramie, said federal roadless policies would prohibit construction on Sheep Mountain…

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead has expressed opposition to Million’s project. His office said this week that the state plans to file comments with FERC.

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.

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