Hello Friends of the Colorado River!
Happy New Year! We hope to help bring forward a good year in 2013 for the Colorado River to protect and restore this great resource for fish and wildlife and future generations of people!
To that end, the new year has started off well in Boulder County, Colorado. On January 7th, the Boulder County Commissioners turned down a proposal to support the City of Denver’s proposed Moffat Collection System Project which would take 18,000 acre feet of new water out of the Upper Colorado River and pipe it to Denver’s suburbs. At a hearing at the Boulder County Courthouse, over 200 people attended and dozens of speakers lambasted the project. The hearing was a stunning and inspirational display of democracy in action — all three commissioners switched positions due to the compelling testimony. The project would require a massive enlargement of “Gross Dam and Reservoir” southwest of Boulder, increasing the height of the dam by 125 feet creating a massive concrete wall across South Boulder Creek and impacting neighbors for years into the future. Please read more about the County’s decision to not support the project here in the Boulder Daily Camera.
Before the holidays, our organization was very involved in the outcome of the Department of Interior’s “Colorado River Basin Study.” As we head into 2013, we will continue to support sound water planning and river restoration throughout the basin by bird-dogging
the Department of Interior’s actions on this Study. Many progressive opportunities exist to help protect and restore the river while also providing water to Southwesterners, especially through water conservation and efficiency in both cities and farms. Dan Grossman, of the Environmental Defense Fund, discusses some of those options in this Denver Post editorial here. Please stay tuned for how you can weigh in on this topic — we will work to create “action opportunities” for the public to let elected officials and decision-makers know that river protection and restoration is the right path forward for the Southwest U.S.
The Colorado River Basin Study also encouraged some provocative thinking from Wade Graham, boardmember of the Glen Canyon Institute. In this Los Angeles Times editorial, Graham eloquently argues that filling Lake Mead first (thereby draining Lake Powell) would help the Southwest meet its water supply needs. Massive amounts of water are lost in Lake Powell due to evaporation and seepage. With the ongoing drought and increasing climate change, both Lakes Powell and Mead sit just above half full with hardly any likelihood of ever filling again. Graham argues that the inefficiency of these half-empty reservoirs is extremely wasteful as well as environmentally destructive. Graham strongly encourages the Department of Interior to quantify this waste and analyze a “Filling Lake Mead First” proposal to help deliver water supply security in the Southwest.
In other news, the Las Vegas water war about its massive proposed groundwater pipeline continues to flare. This Salt Lake Tribune article calls the BLM’s decision to support the pipeline “Pure Folly.” Back in Colorado, another proposed Colorado River water diversion project, the “Windy Gap Firming Project,” drew fire in this Denver Post editorial.
Stay tuned for news and opportunities to take action in 2013! Thank you for your interest and support!