August 29, 2018
Hi Colorado River Basin Media,
Over the past week, stories have run in the Boulder Daily Camera, Denver Post, and Arizona Republic that contain “False Information” quotes attributed to Denver Water CEO James Lochhead. The quote is here:
“Delaying this project actually delays environmental benefits, including 1,000 acre-feet of water for rivers and streams in Grand County…”
Here are the facts:
Denver Water responded to comments in the Final Environmental Impact Statement by supplying the table (to the left) of what the total diversions would be from streams in Boulder, Summit, and Grand Counties, Colorado, for the “Moffat Collection System Project” which is the “Gross Dam/Reservoir” expansion noted in the news articles.
The “Fraser and Williams Fork” are rivers in Grand County (on the west side of the continental divide, both in the Colorado River basin); the “Roberts Tunnel” is a diversion from the Blue River system (on the west side of the continental divide, also in the Colorado River basin): and “South Boulder Creek” is on the east side of the divide in Boulder County. Thus, 10,285 acre feet of water — that’s ~3.5 billion gallons/year — will actually be diverted, on average, from the “rivers and streams in Grand County”.
The statement of “1,000 acre feet of water for rivers and streams in Grand County” as an “environmental benefit” is willfully misleading. Denver Water will be permanently removing an average of 10,285 acre-feet of water from the rivers and streams of Grand County every year. Their offer of a pittance of 1,000 acre-feet of releases will do little to offset the damage from the insult of these additional 10,285 acre-feet diversions on top of the injury of nearly a century of bleeding headwater streams dry.
It is Denver Water’s own diversions that have caused the extremely low stream flows and high temperatures in these streams, and it is Denver Water’s proposed project that would make the conditions worse in the future. We should all be asking – shouldn’t Denver Water fix the damage they have done over the decades first? Shouldn’t Denver Water be held accountable to the ecological devastation of these streams and rivers?
In the future, please fact-check Denver Water’s statements.
Gary Wockner, PhD, Director, Save The Colorado