From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):
It looks like the ultimate water fix: Build a huge reservoir by Dinosaur National Monument and divert much of the Yampa River, then pump back 97 billion gallons a year through a 250-mile pipeline across the Continental Divide to Colorado’s increasingly thirsty Front Range.
This plan for the Yampa — one of the last free-flowing rivers in the overtapped Colorado River Basin — is designed to defray Colorado’s projected 2050 water shortfall of 163 billion gallons.
The Yampa Pumpback exemplifies the state’s traditional approach to enabling a growing population: Since the 1930s, Colorado has built at least 30 trans-mountain diversions using more than 100 miles of tunnels to move Pacific-bound water back eastward to where people are concentrated.
But the era of moving water across mountains may be over.
An impasse over trans-mountain projects such as the Yampa Pumpback remains the most difficult obstacle as Gov. John Hickenlooper’s administration negotiates a Colorado Water Plan.
A second 479-page draft plan unveiled this week after 18 months — rather than drive action to meet needs — is emerging as a plan for more planning.
More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.