Teleconference town hall meeting on proposed diversion from the Green River in Wyoming draws thousands of participants
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A plan to divert water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming drew plenty of public attention last week when a coalition of environmental groups hosted a telephone town hall meeting for 7,400 Colorado residents.
The Flaming Gorge pipeline (sometimes called the Million pipeline) would divert 250,000 acre feet (81 billion gallons) of water from the Green River and pump it across dry Wyoming deserts and over the Continental Divide to the thirsty Front Range of Colorado, where some parts of the South Metro Denver face future water shortages.
By some estimates, the pipeline could cost up to $9 billion to build. More on the project costs in this audio clip.
Conservation groups last week also formally announced their opposition to the proposal, calling it a waste of resources and explaining that there are better ways — including conservation and re-use — to address the constantly growing demand for water.
“We held this town hall because Coloradans need to know about this boondoggle,” said Elise Jones, director of Colorado Environmental Coalition. “The cost to Coloradans is immense, from the cost of construction to the negative impact on our recreation economy to the irreversible environmental damage it would cause.”
The diversions from the Green River could potentially affect flows and ecosystems in Dinosaur National Monument and impact ongoing recovery efforts for native fish in the Colorado River. A federal environmental study that would disclose those impacts is under way, but the project proponent recently asked to have the review done by a different agency. Click here to listen to audio from the tele-town hall discussing impacts to fish.
On the state level, the Colorado Water Conservation Board is considering a $150,000 grant request by the pipeline’s proponents that would set up a special task force to consider the pipeline. The Board will make a decision on the grant at a September meeting, and the coalition of conservation groups and outdoor recreation business owners is asking that this request be denied.
River outfitter Bill Dvorak, owner of Dvorak Expeditions, described the damage the pipeline would do to his business and Colorado’s recreation and tourism economy. “When the fish thin out and the rivers dry to a trickle, fewer people come out to the West Slope,” said Dvorak. “That means fewer people eat in local restaurants, stay in hotels and stop off for a beer after a day on the River. Our whole economy in Western Colorado is impacted.”
The coalition of groups also launched a grassroots petition – online here – at the town hall to oppose state funding for the special Flaming Gorge pipeline task force. The coalition plans to deliver the petition with thousands of signatures to the Colorado Water Conservation Board in advance of its September 13 – 14 meeting.
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, rivers, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news, water Tagged: | Colorado, Dinosaur National Monument, Environment, Flaming Gorge pipeline, Flaming Gorge Reservoir, Green River, Million pipeline, Summit County News, water, water conservation