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Colorado River Update: VAST public support for “No New Dams And Diversions” policy

Hi Friends of the Colorado River!

Last week, Colorado College released their “State of the Rockies” poll. This is a high-quality, comprehensive, yearly poll that asks important questions related to public lands, natural resources, and river management in the West. This year’s poll focused one question on “using water more efficiently -vs- new diversions from rivers” and the results are astounding. Check out the graphic below:

Save The Colorado’s policy is “No New Dams And Diversions” in the Colorado River basin, and that policy has VAST public support. And so that’s why we’ve dug in our heels in the media, with the public, in the permitting processes for the dam/diversion projects, and ultimately in federal court.

Our work to stop new dams and diversions continues to get very wide attention in Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah. In the last two weeks, we’ve been in the news twice about a proposed 280-foot tall dam in Wyoming in the headwaters of the Yampa River. Wyoming Public Radio quoted us as saying, “The Yampa River is one of the least dammed rivers in the western United States. We should be protecting what we have rather than further degrading the rivers.”

And Public News Service quoted us, “What you have going on in the upper basin, which is Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, is basically a water war, where the states are fighting against each other to get the last legally allowed drop of water out of the river.”

Also in Wyoming last week, we inserted comments into the Environmental Assessment process for another dam expansion on the Big Sandy River. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation did such a shoddy job on the Draft Assessment that they didn’t even analyze the impacts on the river of removing a lot of new water. We are holding their feet to the fire. Finally in Wyoming, we are still tracking the largest new diversion proposed on the Colorado River system, a whopping ~150,000 acre feet of water (51 BILLION gallons) out of the Green River every year from a project that would re-engineer Fontenelle Dam.

In Colorado, we are deep in court fighting to stop the proposed Windy Gap Firming Project, and we are preparing for a court battle against the Moffat Collection System Project. Together, those two projects would take a new ~12 billion gallons out of the Upper Colorado River every year. Worse yet, they would both divert the water during ‘peak flow’ periods which are already massively diverted in Grand County, Colorado, and are essential to the health of the Colorado River and its tributaries. We are also tracking proposed dam projects on the San Juan River in southwest Colorado, and on the White River in northwest Colorado.

In Utah, we are standing shoulder to shoulder with our environmental colleagues fighting against the Lake Powell Pipeline, which is the 2nd largest project in the Colorado River basin proposing to drain a new 86,000 acre feet of water (29 BILLION gallons) out of the river. The fight over the Lake Powell Pipeline will be fierce over the next two years.

We are DEEP in the battle to protect the Colorado River! And we are deeply connected to public sentiment that wants water agencies to stop new diversions and focus on conservation and using existing water resources more wisely.

Thank you for the support, and stay tuned for more news and action!

Gary Wockner, Director, Save The Colorado

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