August 28, 2019
For Immediate Release
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310
The Price of California’s Colorado River Water Just Hit $85,000 per acre foot — IN COLORADO.
Northern Colorado: Today, at an auction for Colorado River water, a bidder bought water for an all-time high of $85,000 per acre foot (see the video clip of the auction here from Luke Runyon). This water was purchased from the “Colorado-Big Thompson Project” (C-BT) which is a trans-basin diversion out of the headwaters of the Colorado River on the west side of the continental divide, water which then flows through a tunnel under Rocky Mountain National Park over to the sprawling Denver and northern Front Range area of Colorado (a”unit” of C-BT water selling for $60,000 equals ~$85,000/acre foot).
What’s even more amazing is that C-BT’s trans-basin diversion water is a junior water right in the entire Colorado River system which is regulated by the 1922 “Law of the River”. This trans-basin water is subservient to a “Call on the River” by the Lower Basin States (CA, AZ, NV), in which California is the senior water rights holder (see Aspen Journalism story here highlighting the risk to Colorado “Front Range diverters”). According to Aspen Journalism’s report, about 97% of trans-basin Colorado River water in Colorado was adjudicated after the 1922 Colorado River Compact became law. If climate change decreases the amount of water in the river by as much as scientists predict, a Colorado River Compact Call will almost certainly occur where water currently diverted in Colorado is forced to be sent downstream to California, the water’s rightful owner.
“It’s insane that northern Colorado has built its economy — and continues to build its economy — on a junior water right that California owns,” said Gary Wockner, Director of Save The Colorado. “Climate change is real, and the Law of the River will almost certainly cause this water to be forced downstream to California, its rightful owner.”
“What’s even more insane is that the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and Denver Water are both trying to build new dam/diversion projects — costing around $250 million and $400 million respectively — for Colorado River junior water rights that will eventually be forced to go downstream to California. Save The Colorado is leading the legal fight to stop the proposed projects with lawsuits in federal court against both,” continued Wockner. (see Aspen Journalism story here.)
Explosive population growth in Colorado — nearly 100,000 per year — pouring into the Front Range has caused a frenzy of new construction, as well as the dramatic increase in the price of water. Colorado’s economy ranked #1 in the U.S. in 2019 for the third year in a row (see Denver Post story here).
“Growth is destroying everything that Coloradan’s hold dear,” said Wockner. “Our open spaces, sense of place, and wildlife habitat is being devoured by growth — as well as our rivers.”