Colorado Water Conservation Board ends funding for task force studying proposal to divert water from Wyoming to Front Range
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — An oft-discussed proposal to build a 500-mile pipeline from Wyoming’s Flaming Gorge Reservoir to the Colorado Front Range may have taken a body blow this week, as the Colorado Water Conservation Board voted to cut off funding for a task force studying the plan.
Front Range developer Aaron Million has been touting the giant project as a way to alleviate pressure on the mainstem of the Colorado River and deliver water where it’s needed most.
In several applications to federal regulators, Million also suggested the pipeline could generate power while shunting water to Colorado. There hasn’t been a huge amount of public support for the project, but Colorado water officials, anxious to consider all options, decided to at least take a preliminary look at the idea.
The task force funding drew criticism from conservation groups, who said the money would be better spent studying realistic conservation and reuse options for water. By some state estimates, the pipeline could have cost as much as $9 billion. The CWCB denied a request for $100,000 of state water money for continued study.
“The Flaming Gorge Pipeline has been called the ‘zombie pipeline’ from years of lumbering around trying to latch onto anything that might keep it alive,” said Drew Beckwith, water policy manager at Western Resource Advocates. ” Today’s CWCB vote sends a strong message that it’s time to move on to other water demand solutions. No amount of discussion is going to make the pipeline less expensive or more realistic, and we applaud the CWCB for recognizing the need to move forward,” he said.
The ‘Flaming Gorge Pipeline’ (FGP) is a proposal to pump 81 million gallons of water a year across more than five hundred (500) miles from the Green River in Wyoming to the Front Range of Colorado—all at a projected cost of $9 billion dollars (according to CWCB calculations). Western Resource Advocates has consistently opposed the idea as unreasonable and unnecessary.
We applaud Governor Hickenlooper and the Colorado Water Conservation Board for their decision to turn down spending additional money to examine new water diversions as a solution to meet Colorado’s water challenges, said Protect Our Flows director Molly Mugglestone. “It’s the right decision for what Coloradans want as reflected overwhelmingly in a recent bipartisan poll commissioned by Protect the Flows.
The poll showed that more than 80 percent of Colorado voters would tell state officials to spend their time and resources focusing on conservation efforts, rather than water diversions; a majority of voters across political and geographic lines oppose building additional pipelines; and almost all express strong regard for Colorado rivers and a desire to protect them.
Million has said the pipeline could actually help protect flows in over-used sections of the Colorado, especially in years like this, with abundant moisture in Wyoming, but well below average snowpack in Colorado.