Feds delay decisions on new Colorado River diversions

Instead, the water goes through this aqueduct to water bluegrass lawns on the Front Range.
New diversions from the Colorado River to the Front Range are still on hold pending further review. @bberwyn photo.

water quality, endangered species issues still unresolved

Staff Report

The complex permitting process for a pair of new Colorado water supply projects has been delayed yet again, as federal agencies continue to study the impacts of new diversions from the Colorado River and enlarged reservoirs on the Front Range.

Decisions for Denver Water’s Moffat Collection System Project, and Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s Windy Gap Firming Project have been rescheduled for release in 2016, according to a Nov. 4 press release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps had previously announced they would issue decisions late this year, but the federal agency now says that questions related to water quality, endangered species, cultural resources, and mitigation haven’t been resolved.

“Coordination with various entities will serve as a basis for the Corps’ decisions on whether to issue or deny Clean Water Act Section 404 Permits for the proposals. The Corps’ decisions will be in the form of records of decision, which will conclude the National Environmental Policy Act evaluation process for both projects.

A final environmental impact statement for the Windy Gap project was issued in 2011 and the FEIS for the Moffat Project was published in 2014. Both projects aim to bolster water supplies for growing Front Range cities, but some conservation groups say the new diversions will further degrade the Colorado River.

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