Jim Pokrandt: ‘The River District’s [motion to intervene] also cites the [Flaming Gorge pipeline] as speculative with relatively small demands’

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From email from the Colorado River District (Jim Pokrandt):

Update: Here’s the release from the Colorado River District website.

The Colorado River District is opposing a proposed Flaming Gorge Reservoir pipeline project through a motion to intervene with a federal regulatory agency that is reviewing the plan to pump water from the Wyoming reservoir to the Front Range of Colorado.

Fort Collins, Colo., businessman Aaron Million is proposing a 560-mile pipeline, the Regional Water Supply Project (RWSP), which would carry up to 250,000 acre feet of water. It is under review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for its power-generating aspects. The River District’s motion to intervene says, “The volume of water at issue would adversely impact existing users of Colorado’s entitlement to the waters of the Colorado River, and could usurp the remainder of the state’s compact allocation.”

Although the water would be taken out of the Colorado River system from the Green River, a tributary with Wyoming headwaters, under the Colorado River Compact of 1922, the amount still counts against Colorado’s limited ability to use the river.

The River District’s motion also cites the RWSP as “speculative” with “relatively small demands – nowhere near the volume claimed by the RWSP. Moreover, none of the projected water users have demonstrated the ability to pay for the enormous cost of the project.” The RWSP also threatens the ability of the Colorado River District, the state of Colorado and other public entities to plan for the development of the state’s remaining entitlement to the Colorado River in a “responsibly conservative matter,” the motion states.

Other objections include:

– The need first for the Colorado Water Conservation Board to complete its Colorado River Water Availability Study;
– The need for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to complete is Colorado River Basin Water Supply and Demand Study;
– The need for Colorado’s West Slope to finalize its own consumptive and nonconsumptive studies; and
– The need for there to be interstate and intrastate agreements on how the water would be managed under the Prior Appropriation System.

More coverage from the Associated Press via The Billings Gazette. From the article:

Colorado River District officials are telling regulators the cost for the pipeline, which would stretch more than 500 miles, will be “enormous.” They also say the proposal could cause Colorado to use up its allocation of Colorado River system water under a multistate compact and hurt existing users of that water. Million contends there’s enough water available for his proposal. Federal and state studies on Colorado River water availability aren’t complete yet.

More coverage from Ken Green writing for the Denver Examiner. From the article:

The Center for Biological Diversity said that “online action alerts” issued by it and another environment advocacy group, Earthjustice, prompted the flood of public comments to the Regulatory Commission from members of the public who oppose construction of the 500-mile pipeline they claim would be “disastrous” to the ecosystem of the Green River, including the Colorado pikeminnow, the humpback chub and razorback sucker, as well as damage the communities whose economy is based on the river…

The current proposed project would require Wyco to construct natural-gas fired pumping stations (“at least nine”, said the Center) to pump the water over the Continental Divide. The Center claims that even Wyco officials acknowledge that the energy needed to pump the water over the divide would be greater than the project might create through hydropower

From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

According to the River District’s motion, the project is speculative and, thus far, none of the projected users have shown an ability to pay for the expensive project…

“The volume of water at issue would adversely impact existing users of Colorado’s entitlement to the waters of the Colorado River, and could usurp the remainder of the state’s compact allocation,” the River District wrote in its motion to intervene. Although the water would be taken out of the Colorado River system from the Green River, a tributary with Wyoming headwaters, under the Colorado River Compact of 1922, the amount still counts against Colorado’s limited ability to use the river.

The River District also said the pipeline threatens the ability of the Colorado River District, the state of Colorado and other public entities to plan for the development of the state’s remaining entitlement to the Colorado River in a “responsibly conservative matter.”

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here.

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