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PRESS RELEASE: As Colorado River Shortages Declared; Upper Basin Declares “Drain, Baby, Drain!”

For Immediate Release
April 18, 2021
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310

As Colorado River Shortages Declared; Upper Basin Declares “Drain, Baby, Drain!”

Colorado River, USA: Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation issued a report stating that levels of water in Colorado River reservoirs, Mead and Powell, will fall to historic lows in 2021 requiring the first ever “shortage” declaration in history. The shortage declaration will require that agencies cut back on the amount of water diverted out of the Colorado River. National media — including here, ABC News — widely reported the shortage declaration, but also missed half the story, that the states of Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah are not cutting back at all, but rather proposing dramatic more dams and diversions.

Save The Colorado is the only organization that tracks proposed new dams and diversions in the Colorado River basin. To date, a total of about 25 (TWENTY FIVE) new dams or diversions are proposed or planned, including projects that would divert a new ~400,000 acre feet of water out of the Colorado River before it reaches Powell Reservoir in Arizona. That list of projects is here.

“It’s beyond irresponsible that the Bureau of Reclamation is failing to oppose new dams and diversions in the Colorado River basin. Rather than reduce diversions from the river in the Upper Basin, the Bureau is wringing its hands, crying wolf, and actually supporting permits for new diversions,” said Daniel P. Beard, former Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation appointed by President Clinton. “The federal government is exhibiting a schizophrenic delusion — reality is that less water should be diverted, but the federal government is allowing even more water to be diverted.”

“Just a few weeks ago, a federal district judge in Colorado refused to stop yet another new diversion, this one of 30,000 acre feet — 10 billion gallons a year — called the ‘Windy Gap Firming Project’ out of the Upper Colorado River in Grand County, Colorado,” said Gary Wockner whose organization, Save The Colorado, was the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit trying to stop the project. (see news story here in Greeley Tribune) “This project, as well as every additional proposed diversion, will accelerate the cutbacks and the political chaos around Colorado River management.”

Save The Colorado argues that climate change is real, and that there’s not enough water to support the current number of reservoirs, let alone build new ones. To that end, Save The Colorado sued the U.S. Department of Interior in Dec. 2019 (see story here in the Salt Lake Tribune), arguing that, due to climate change, the Bureau of Reclamation must consider an alternative that decommissions Glen Canyon Dam and Powell Reservoir. That lawsuit remains in limbo in federal district court in Prescott, AZ.



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