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MEDIA STATEMENT: Save The Colorado Statement on Unaweep Canyon Hydropower Project

MEDIA STATEMENT: Unaweep Canyon Hydropower Project

May 22, 2022

Today, the Colorado Sun posted a lengthy story about the proposed “Unaweep Canyon Hydropower Project“. The story highlights the extreme concerns that local residents have about the project.

Save The Colorado has known about this project for over a year, and has reviewed preliminary plans and documents. We have decided to NOT take a position on this project nor to engage in the local or FERC permitting battles for the following reasons:

  • Save The Colorado is primarily a river protection organization. All of the planning documents we have seen indicate that the project will have no impact on the flow of water in the Gunnison River. The wells that the company will dig near the river will take out groundwater that will be purchased from already diverted sources. Further, if there is any localized impact on the river, the company will have to augment the river so as to not impact other water users.
  • Save The Colorado often does take a position against hydropower projects that negatively impact rivers and/or create reservoirs that emit greenhouse gases. Because the reservoirs for this project are off-channel and are relatively small, it falls below a threshold for us to consider engagement.

All of that said, there likely will be significant negative environmental impacts caused by the project to local landscapes, to non-human species, and to local people. It is our opinion that this project is not a “clean energy” project at all — it will emit considerable greenhouse gases due to the pumping of water and the construction of the project, and it will have consequential negative environmental impacts on the local landscape and environment. For that reason, we expect that other environmental organizations may aggressive oppose, and try to stop, the project.

If any further review of the project’s planning documents change, we may change our position in the future. Feel free to contact us with any questions.

Gary Wockner:

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