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PRESS RELEASE: Climate Change Be Dammed, Army Corps Decides To Further Drain Colorado River

For Immediate Release
May 17, 2017
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-281-8310

Climate Change Be Damned: Army Corps Issues Decision Approving First Major New Dam And Diversion On The Colorado River In Decades

Colorado River, USA: Today, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers issued a “Record of Decision” (Decision) approving the Windy Gap Firming Project (Project), the first major new dam and diversion on the Colorado River in decades. The Decision comes at the exact moment in history when the River is already severely depleted and scientists say that the River is likely to experience “megadrought” due to the increased effects of climate change.

The Project would drain tens-of-thousands of new acre feet – up to 13 billion gallons of water – out of the River, on average ever year, further exacerbating all of the severe problems already facing the River including climate change, endangered species, decreased levels in Lakes Powell and Mead, and political turmoil.

“This Project would be the first consequential new dam and diversion on the Colorado River in decades, coming at a time when the river is already severely drained and depleted due to overuse, drought, and climate change,” said Gary Wockner, Executive Director of Save The Colorado. “In fact, 70% of the River in Grand County, Colorado, is already drained out, and officials are working to keep Lakes Powell and Mead, downstream, from further emptying. This project would make all of that worse. The Colorado River is on life-support right now — if the patient is bleeding out, you don’t cut open a new artery to try and heal it. Instead, you should work to protect and restore the River, not further drain it.”

Wockner continued: “The Project would further drain and destroy the Colorado River exactly when scientists say the already depleted River is expected to experience even more heat and drought due to climate change. This draining would occur in order to slather more water on bluegrass lawns on the sprawling cities in the Front Range of Colorado, an area that should be focusing on water conservation, water recycling, growth management, and sharing water with farmers. In the next few weeks, we will pore over the Record of Decision — we will likely challenge this decision in federal district court because the Project is wasteful, unnecessary, and environmentally damaging.

Wockner continued: “Every American river deserves its day in court — the Colorado River, which is the lifeblood of the American Southwest, certainly deserves the best legal defense we can give it.”

See image below for the current depletion of the Colorado River in Grand County, and what would happen if the Project (and the Moffat Collection System Project) are built. (Image courtesy U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

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