UPDATED UPDATE: We now have over 19,000 signatures! One week left to sign!
UPDATE: Petition signatures SKYROCKETED to over 12,ooo overnight! Please keep spreading the word!
Over the past few weeks, you’ve all heard a lot from CEC and our partners about the Flaming Gorge Pipeline proposals. You can find links and more information on the proposed projects here or here. The basic overview is that a private investment group as well as a few municipal water providers have expressed an interest in the concept of pumping over 80 billion gallons of water per year from Flaming Gorge Reservoir on the Green River in Wyoming to the Front Range of Colorado (a 560 mile trip!).
This type of project would come with some major costs. A fairly wonky state study estimates that a project of this scale could cost up to $9 Billion. Yeah, that’s BILLION, just for the construction of the project. It’s unlikely that any water providers in Colorado can afford to finance a project of this size without state or federal support, and I’m not sure if you’ve all noticed, but we currently have major budget crises happening at the state and federal levels.
Beyond the price tag on a project like this, pumping over 80 billion gallons a year across two states would have some major environmental consequences, too. The Green River is the key to a decade old program aimed at recovering four endangered species fish. These fish aren’t the most glamorous looking bunch but they’re native to the Colorado River and it’s tributarie,s and without this program they’d be goners. While the dissolution of a key program is a major impact, it doesn’t even scratch the surface when it comes to the consequences of a project like this. Check out this site for a longer break down of additional concerns.
Because of these big impacts, Colorado Environmental Coalition and many of our partners have been voicing our concerns over a recent proposal to spend more than $150,000 in state funds on a “task force” to discuss the pipeline. Now, we’re not opposed to convening diverse stakeholders to discuss hard issues, but we are opposed to a select few pushing an agenda that isn’t supported by others in the state. The South Metro Water Supply Authority and the Parker Water and Sanitation District are leading an effort for muncipal water providers interested in this concept. Jointly, through local basin round tables, they have applied for grant funding for this “task force” and though many round tables as well as groups like CEC have expressed concern about joining this effort it continues to move forward.
In just a few weeks the Colorado Water Conservation Board, a state agency tasked with allocating state funding and working on statewide water supply planning, will take action on the request to fund the “task force”. CEC and our partners think that Colorado deserves a better discussion, that there are better options, and that citizens should be widely engaged in this effort. That’s why earlier this summer we held a telephone town hall with more than 7,000 Coloradan’s participating, it’s also why we’ve worked with our partners on a petition to the Colorado Water Conservation Board asking them to not spend crucial state resources on a fools errand. So far the petition has nearly 4,000 signatures, from across the US! We are thrilled that so many Colorado residents, our neighbors and our visitors from all over have been compelled to send their comments to the CWCB. It is truly an illustration of how vital the Colorado River, and tributaries like the Green River, are to our state, communities and economies.
Earlier this week, the manager of Parker Water and Sanitation District, Frank Jaeger, sent a letter to the Colorado Water Conservation Board urging them to approve the grant application. That letter also suggested that some “groups” are “engaging in a political attempt to intimidate the participants and bias or terminate the process”. We read this letter as a message to our organizations, in reference to our actions. It would seem that Mr. Jaeger feels that the input and opinions of Colorado citizens, tourists (who spend money here), or residents of our neighbor states (who will feel the impacts from his project) are political tactics, bias and intimidation. Let us be clear: we stand by our efforts to engage citizens in a public discourse of how our public resources (both water and funding) ought to be allocated. This might not be the largest sum of money ever allocated to a study or task force, but it’s not insignificant. It’s funding that could be spent on a variety of other efforts, many with higher chances for success.
As citizens of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah (or any other state that relies on water from the Colorado River system) we have precious few opportunities to voice our opinions on how we allocate our water. Please join me, and nearly 4,000 others in signing the petition to stop the Flaming Gorge Pipeline.