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Colorado River Update: Nobody Fights Proposed New Dams Like Save The Colorado!

Hi Friends of the Colorado River!

We’re getting some spring rains here on the Front Range of Colorado, but much of the Southwest U.S. is extremely dry. In fact, the annual runoff into the Colorado River and its tributaries has likely already peaked and is expected to be one of the lowest in years. Compound this with already stretched water supplies and degraded river systems, and it makes no sense to be building new dams and diversions on or out of the Colorado River. Fortunately, we are fighting new proposed dams and diversions all across the states of Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah to try to protect this endangered river system.

In Colorado, we are deep in battle against the proposed expansion of Gross Dam/Reservoir in Boulder County. This crazy project proposes to further drain the Colorado River to build and fill the tallest dam in the history of Colorado, and then pipe the water out to Denver. Last month, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finished up its public comment period for this project and we pounded the agency with our oppositional comments, including the main point: Denver Water doesn’t need more water.  In fact, Denver Water’s water use is going down, not up, and so this project is an unnecessary boondoggle we are committed to trying to stop (see our recent press release here).

Further yet, the Gross Dam project would combine with another massive proposed dam/diversion project — called the Windy Gap Firming Project — to drain the Upper Colorado River even more. We’ve already filed a lawsuit against the Windy Gap Project and we are intending to challenge the Gross Dam project this summer. Check out this recent Denver TV news story about our lawsuit and our work to stop these irresponsible new dams.

In Western Colorado, we are leading the fight against what could be a HUGE new dam and diversion on the White River west of Meeker. The “Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District” is considering several proposals including one that would build the biggest reservoir in Colorado! If this project is built, the White River would be decimated with much of its water potentially diverted out before the White reaches the state line with Utah. The Water District says it is going to start its permitting process in the next year, and so we have notified the District and the State that we will oppose the project as hard as we can. Check out this news story in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel about our opposition to the project.

In Utah, we are waiting for the State of Utah to re-start the permitting process for the Lake Powell Pipeline — a massive proposed diversion of water out of the Colorado River — and when they do, we are locking arms with our Utah colleagues to oppose it. Also in Utah, we have filed a legal “protest” against a proposal to divert water out of the Green River and pipe it all the way across Wyoming and down the Front Range of Colorado.

In Wyoming, we are keeping a close eye on two projects: 1) the Fontenelle Dam Project — in fact, a bill is working its way through congress to allow for the permitting process to begin, and 2) the proposed West Fork Dam on a tributary to the Yampa River.

Speaking of the Yampa River! Last weekend, we had a GREAT time on a 5-day trip on the Yampa on our yearly Save The Colorado raft trip hosted by OARS Whitewater Rafting. Yes — we fight hard but play hard too! We coincidentally hit the likely peak runoff and had good rapids, including a clean run through Warm Springs Rapid. The river was filled with sediment and acting and looking like a beautiful, wild Western river. The banner photo above is from the trip.

Stay tuned for all the action, and please know that Save The Colorado is fighting hard to stop new dams and protect this river system.

Thank you for your support!
Gary Wockner, Director, Save The Colorado

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