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Colorado River Update: Save The Colorado Takes Aim at proposed “Wolf Creek Reservoir” in Northwestern Colorado

Hi Friends of the Colorado River!

Our “No New Dams and Diversions” campaign continues to be called into action. This week, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management is hosting a discussion about the proposed “Wolf Creek Reservoir” on the White River in Rio Blanco, County, Colorado, which is in the northwest corner of the state.

The proposed massive half-mile long dam and huge reservoir would further drain the White River which is one of the healthier and freer flowing rivers in the entire Colorado River system. The White River flows into the Green River in Utah which flows into the Colorado River downstream in Utah.

We sent a tersely worded letter to the BLM, whose Northwest “Resource Advisory Committee” is hosting the presentation. The BLM committee includes oil and gas stakeholders which mirrors the speculation that the massive new dam/reservoir is going to feed the oil industry in that corner of the state. Oil shale companies are large water rights holders in Rio Blanco County and their lawyers have been working tirelessly to firm up their water rights for likely eventual use in oil shale production.

In our short letter to the BLM (posted here), we stated that, if built, the proposed Wolf Creek dam and reservoir would:

Deplete flows in the White River which is currently one of the healthier and freer flowing rivers in the Colorado River system.
Deplete water flow necessary for endangered fish in the Green and Colorado Rivers downstream.

Cause severe negative environmental impacts to the White River including a change in flow regime, change in temperature, change in siltation, impacts to wetlands and riparian areas, impacts to the fishery and all aquatic species, and impacts to recreational opportunities.

Cause severe negative impacts to Wolf Creek, part of which would be completely flooded negatively impacting wetlands and riparian areas, and impacts to all aquatic species.

Cause an increase in greenhouse gas emissions due to the pumping of water out of the White River up into the Wolf Creek Reservoir, and cause an increase in greenhouse gas emissions due to the existence and operations of the Wolf Creek Reservoir.

Finally, we said:

As you are aware, the entire Colorado River system is in crisis due to all of the current dams and diversions. Its completely irresponsible to be proposing new diversions when theres not even remotely enough water to fill, or even stabilize, the reservoirs on the system now. Indeed, upstream on the Green River, the federal government continues to drain water out of Flaming Gorge Reservoir to try and save Lake Powell and Lake Mead as such, any new reservoir on the White River would likely face the same carnage, constantly being drained and depleted, or even opposed by downstream diverters. In fact, the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline in Utah has the entire Lower Basin water providers generally opposed against it.

The proposed “Wolf Creek Reservoir” is expected to start its federal National Environmental Policy Act permitting process soon. We encourage the BLM to put a stop, before it starts, to the insanity of building more dams and diversions in the Colorado River system. Rest assured, we will hold their feet to the fire.

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Thank you!

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