Water: Feds once again reject Flaming Gorge pipeline

The proposed Flaming Gorge pipeline.

FERC tosses out appeal of earlier denial of review for controversial water project

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal officials have yet again rejected a review of a proposed water pipeline that would shunt part of the Green River to the Front Range of Colorado. Read the FERC notice here.

The controversial Flaming Gorge pipeline (formally known as the regional water supply project) was initially under review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but partway through that process, proponent Aaron Million switched gears and asked the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission to review the proposal as an energy generating project.

FERC rejected the application once and Million subsequently appealed that decision under an administrative procedure. This week’s FERC ruled denies his appeal and appears to put the project on hold, at least for now.

The proposal garnered widespread opposition from businesses that rely on recreational flows in regional rivers and streams, collectively represented by Protect the Flows.

“The thousands of people in our region whose jobs depend upon a strong Colorado River system dodged another bullet today, but it’s time to move beyond this threat once and for all,” said the group’s coordinator, Molly Mugglestone. “Enough time and public money has been spent fixating on this one controversial idea, it’s time to bring people together to come up with a smarter way forward.”

The Colorado Water Conservation Board is still mulling the project via a special task force, slated to complete its work at the end of the year, and proponent Aaron Million may yet find another way to pursue his dream, which he touts as a way to meet expected new water demand on the Front Range, and to protect parts of the Colorado River from even greater diversions in the future.

Conservation groups, on the other hand, want more emphasis on smarter use of existing supplies. In-depth analysis of the project from the conservation community’s standpoint is available at this Western Resource Advocates website.

Some were blunt in their reaction to the latest FERC decision.

“The federal government has now done a double smackdown of this ridiculous pipeline proposal,” said Gary Wockner, of Save the Colorado. “The State of Colorado needs to immediately follow suit by stopping their Flaming Gorge Pipeline taskf orce, stopping the waste of State taxpayers money on this impractical proposal, and starting to more heavily invest in guaranteed common-sense solutions for Colorado’s future water supply, including aggressive water conservation, water recycling, and cooperative agreements with farmers.”

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