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Colorado River Update: Dam Fights Rage Forward With a Few Victories!

Hi Friends of the Colorado River!

It is your support that keeps us working! Please donate online here for Giving Tuesday:

Here’s a year-end update on our river-protection work in 2020.

First, a short-term victory! With your help and all of your voices, the Lake Powell Pipeline permitting process has been delayed until well into 2021.

This proposed pipeline would be a huge new diversion of water straight out of the Colorado River in Lake Powell. The water would be sent to the sprawling and water-wasting cities in southwest Utah, all of which have alternatives to meet their water supply needs. The Bureau of Reclamation was pounded by comments (from you!) and many others about the terrible impacts of this pipeline. Our fight will continue, but it’s a solid short-term victory.

Second, another victory! The State of Utah nixed a proposal to build a massive pipeline from the Green River hundreds of miles over to the Front Range of Colorado. The pipeline, called the “Green Sun Storage Hydropower Project, was really a diversion project that would have drained nearly 20 BILLION gallons of water every year out of the Green River to slake the never-ending thirst of the Denver-area megalopolis.  We were proud to lock arms with our colleagues in Utah to put in stinging comments of opposition, and we’re thrilled the State agreed with us.

Third, our battle to stop the Gross Dam expansion in Boulder County, Colorado, is moving forward fast and furious. Denver Water, which is trying to build the tallest dam in the history of Colorado, has now started the permitting process with Boulder County, and we are right in the middle of it. We will battle this project every step of the way.

Denver Water’s application was totally incomplete, and we sent strong comments into Boulder County that the application needed to be rejected. Thank you all for sending in comments to Boulder County – over 1,000 of you sent in comments! This dam would not only further drain the headwaters of the Colorado River, it would be the biggest and most environmentally damaging construction project in Boulder County history.

Also, our federal lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for giving a permit to Denver Water is continuing to play out. We expect to be filing briefs next year arguing that the Army Corps violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act. We will enforce those federal laws to the strictest letter, making sure that everything can be done to stop construction of this project. Stay tuned for how you can continue to be involved!

Fourth, we continue to lead the fight against a proposed dam in and near the Holy Cross Wilderness in Eagle County, Colorado. Two months ago, our team of groups and attorneys toured the proposed dam site on Homestake Creek. Just upstream of the Colorado near Vail, the proposed dam would destroy pristine wetlands on Homestake Creek and send nearly 10 billion gallons of new Colorado River water over to the sprawling Denver metropolis every year.

We have filed stinging comments with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and are leading a coalition of groups to stop the project, represented by the University of Denver Law Clinic. We are waiting on the USFS to make a permitting decision so we can challenge it if needed. Stay tuned!

There are now TWENTY FIVEthat’s right 25 – proposals for new dams/diversions/pipelines in the Colorado River basin that would further drain and deplete the river. Save The Colorado is the only organization that tracks them all, and fights to stop them wherever we can. We are either leading the fight or supporting the fight against every project.

All of our other legal fights are still moving forward including:

  • Federal lawsuit against the Windy Gap Firming Project in Colorado.
  • Federal lawsuit against the operating plan for Glen Canyon Dam.
  • Intervention against FERC permits for three hydropower dams near the Grand Canyon.
  • Bird-dogging the proposed new dam on the White River in Colorado.

Finally, we are pushing out more news and viewpoints! My friends at “EarthX” in Dallas, TX, have created a show that I am hosting, “#OvercomingOvershoot”. My goal is to ask hard questions and have hard conversations with our guests, in part about the Colorado River and water use across the planet. Check out to learn more about this new show!

Please take care of yourself and your family, and know that we are hard at work fighting to protect the Colorado River.

Please donate online here:

THANK YOU for your support!

Gary Wockner, PhD
Executive Director, Save The Colorado

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