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Colorado River Update: Should we drain all of the farms, or drain Lake Powell?

Hi Friends of the Colorado River!

First, it’s been a historic few weeks on the Colorado River as the federal government enacted the first “cuts” to the water supply for Arizona and Nevada. The big reservoirs, Mead and Powell, have sunk to historic low levels and all the climate scientists are quietly saying “I told you so” as their prognostications came true. In that mix, we push the edge and try to force people and decision-makers to face the inevitable outcome that there’s simply not enough water to keep both reservoirs operating.

Writers on the Range, a West-wide syndicated news service published my column this week titled, “The Colorado River is Sending a Message“. You can read it here, or in many of the West’s newspapers. The time has come, I say, to face the music and consider draining Lake Powell and tearing down Glen Canyon Dam. The alternative — draining a million acres of farms to use their water to try and save the lake and its hydropower — makes no sense.

Our goal is to promote the systemic, consequential change that is needed to protect and restore the Colorado River, not promote moderate meaningless drivel. The Colorado River is a living, breathing ecosystem that needs loud and provocative defenders. Take a read of the Writers on the Range column and enjoy it.

Second, we’re in Great Company! Our friends at the outdoor company, Patagonia, also published a loud and provocative column in the Boston Globe a couple weeks ago titled, “The Dirty Dam Truth” (Click here to read the column in the Boston Globe). Authored by Patagonia’s new CEO, Ryan Gellert, the column takes a hard aim at dams, including hydropower, and argues that President Biden must take action to protect rivers by requiring that the EPA take steps opposing dams and hydropower. The column includes these recommendations:

“The Biden administration must take three crucial steps. First, it should include significant funding for dam removal in the American Jobs Plan, while excluding new dam investments. We can build back better while creating jobs and fighting climate change, all while benefiting tribal, rural, and economically marginalized communities. Second, it should direct the Environmental Protection Agency to require that all dam facilities study, evaluate, and report data on their full carbon footprint (carbon emissions and lost sequestration). Finally, it should remove electricity produced by hydropower dams from all US clean energy standards and strengthen Federal Trade Commission guidance around false environmental and climate claims related to dam facilities and hydropower.”

Finally, we have good news in our fight against the Gross Dam expansion in Boulder County, Colorado. Working with our partners, The Environmental Group, we intervened to defend Boulder County against the outrageous and frivolous lawsuit filed against the County by Denver Water.

We’ve been fighting to protect Boulder County against the massive Gross Dam expansion for over 10 years, and this latest battle goes to the heart of the issue. We are adamant that Boulder County should have permitting authority over the project which would be the biggest construction project in Boulder County history to build the tallest dam in Colorado history. Moreover, the project would drain another 4 billion gallons of water/year out of the Upper Colorado River at exact moment when the river is already on life support and gasping for more water.

Denver Water is a bully agency that is trying to ram this massive dam down the throats of Boulder County citizens. We’re proud to defend Boulder County by defending, in court, the County’s Land Use Code, and defending the rights of local citizens to have a say in the massive environmental impact this project would cause in their County.

Stay tuned for more consequential, systemic change that we are pushing forward in the Colorado River basin.

It’s YOUR SUPPORT that keeps us working hard.

You can donate online by clicking here.

Gary Wockner, Director, Save The Colorado


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