PRESS RELEASE: FERC moves forward with hydro project near Lake Powell, Conservation groups vow to fight
FERC moves forward with pumped storage hydro project near Lake Powell Conservation groups vow to…
For Immediate Release
Jan. 8, 2021
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310
Save The Colorado Girds For Dam Permitting Battle on Colorado’s White River
White River, Colorado: Yesterday, the Colorado Water Court system approved a water rights settlement for the Rio Blanco Water Conservation District of 66,720 acre feet for the proposed “Wolf Creek Dam” beside the White River (see District press release here). The settlement paves the way for a permitting process to begin for the project that would pump the water out of the White River, store it behind a new dam on Wolf Creek, and divert the water permanently out of the river for highly speculative uses in the towns of Rangely and Meeker as well as for hydropower.
The U.S. Census Bureau actually shows the population of Rio Blanco County decreasing every year for the last 8 years (see Census report here).
If the District continues to pursue the project, they will need to trigger a permit process with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will engage the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. Further, the project would likely cost a couple hundred million dollars when there’s no prospect for raising that much money anywhere within the District. Rio Blanco County’s total human population is 6,318. (In 2017, the County had 14,436 cows.)
“If the Rio Blanco Water District triggers a permit process for this new dumb dam, they will get a long, hard, legal and scientific battle from us as we work to protect the White River,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Colorado. “At the exact moment in history where the State of Colorado is proposing to enact ‘demand management’ to send more water downstream, the District is proposing ‘waste management’ to store and use more water in the White River basin.”
Via an op-ed in the Rio Blanco Times in 2020, Save The Colorado already informed the District the project would be aggressively opposed.