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PRESS RELEASE: Fifteen Reasons Why “Historic Collaboration on the Colorado River” Is Not True

PRESS RELEASE: Fifteen Reasons Why “Historic Collaboration on the Colorado River” Is Not True

July 30, 2017
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310

Over the last few years, there’s been a large number of newspaper articles, and even one book, talking about the “historic collaboration on the Colorado River”. These stories often mistakenly depict that a new wave of collaboration and compromise has broken out among stakeholders across the Colorado River basin who used to be mortal and legal enemies. These stories are not completely accurate, and have relied on a narrow band of sources that do not represent the diversity of stakeholders who work in the Southwest U.S. on river issues. For example:

  1. Environmental groups have sued and are locked into battle against Las Vegas over a pipeline that would drain water across northern Nevada to fuel Vegas’ growth.
  2. Environmental groups have intervened and plan on challenging the entire process and product of whatever happens with the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline in Utah.
  3. The Imperial Irrigation District of Southern California — which is the biggest water diverter in the entire basin — still has not agreed to the “Lower Basin Drought Contingency Planning”, and is holding out the billions of dollars needed to stabilize the Salton Sea as their bargaining chip.
  4. Environmental groups are poised and ready for battle if the Fontenelle Dam re-engineering in Wyoming takes a step forward.
  5. The Windy Gap Firming Project in Colorado is bitterly contested and likely headed for court.
  6. The Moffat Collection System Project in Colorado is bitterly contested and likely headed for court.
  7. The Gila River Diversion in New Mexico is bitterly contested and headed for a controversial years-long NEPA battle.
  8. The water proposed to be used for the Green River Nuclear Plant in Utah has been, and will continue to be, bitterly and legally contested.
  9. Proposals to build dams on the White River in Colorado are heating up and will surely be contested.
  10. The Yampa River Pumpback in Colorado is still on the agenda and will be bitterly contested if it moves forward.
  11. Utah just finished its “50-Year Water Plan” and it’s chock full of controversial dam and diversion ideas.
  12. The “Colorado Water Plan”, finished in 2015, is also controversial, contested, and chock full of new dam ideas.
  13. The 2015 “Wyoming Water Strategy” is chock full of dam after dam after dam and likely will create fight after fight after fight.
  14. Glen Canyon Dam, relicensed in 2016, may soon face a legal battle.
  15. And finally, and perhaps the biggest controversy of all, Native American tribes are legally entitled to up to 2 million acre feet of ‘new or already diverted’ water diverted out of the Colorado River system. These proposals will likely move forward piecemeal, and will likely all be contested for decades in the future.

“The folks chattering about historic collaboration on the Colorado River represent a very narrow band of interests that generally support new dams and diversions,” said Gary Wockner, Director of Save The Colorado which tracks projects throughout the basin and has a policy of ‘no new dams and diversions’. “The stories of ‘collaboration and compromise’ and about how ‘we are all in this together’ are not accurate.”

“The Colorado River and its tributaries are the most dammed, diverted, and drained river system on the planet,” continued Wockner. “The agencies and entities that are proposing even more dams are declaring war on the river, and we are proud to help defend this river system against these attacks.”


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