Army Corps Colonel From Standing Rock Will Also Make Colorado River Decisions

For Immediate Release
November 29, 2016
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310

Army Corps Colonel From Standing Rock Will Also Make Colorado River Decisions

Colorado River, USA: The eyes of the nation are riveted on Standing Rock, North Dakota, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued an evacuation notice for the standing-rock-1600x495Oceti Sakown Camp for Dec. 5th. The evacuation notice has been issued by Colonel John Henderson, Commander and Chief of the Omaha District. Tribal members at Standing Rock have appealed to President Obama to address the issue and disallow the pipeline and protect sacred tribal property and their water.

Colonel Henderson’s Omaha District is also in charge of the Environmental Impact Statement process for two extremely controversial proposed dam and diversion projects on the Colorado River in the state of Colorado. The “Moffat Collection System Project” and the “Windy Gap Firming Project” permitting decisions have been delayed for years, and were just delayed again in October. The new predicted decision date is “2017.” Together, the projects would drain a new 15 billion gallons of water out of the already severely degraded Upper Colorado River in Grand County, Colorado, and pipe it over to the sprawling cities and suburbs from Denver to Greeley, Colorado.

“The eyes of the nation are on the Army Corps which is playing a decisive role in the protection of water resources at Standing Rock as well as here in Colorado,” said Gary Wockner, Director of Save The Colorado. “We need to be protecting and restoring waterways and rivers, not further polluting and draining them.”

“There are alternative routes for the DAPL pipeline just like there are alternative routes for the cities in Colorado to get water,” continued Wockner.

On Sunday, November 27, the Corps issued a new statement saying it wants a “peaceful and orderly transition to a safer location, and has no plans for forcible removal.”




Hello Amazing Friends of the Colorado River!


Click here to donate and join us!

donald_trump123Here’s five facts that we know are true:

1. Climate Change is real, is impacting the Colorado River right now, and will decrease flows in the river in the future even more.

2. Federal government regulations and environmental laws protect the river, the environment, people’s health, and the economy in the Southwest U.S.

3. The California drought is real.

4. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) needs to be strengthened, not gutted.

5. The federal process for permitting new dams and diversions needs to be strengthened, not streamlined.

However, in his campaign for presidency, Donald Trump said the exact opposite. He said climate change is a hoax, he wants to cut regulations, he said the California drought was not real, he wants to gut the EPA, and he wants to “streamline” federal permitting processes that impact the environment. Moreover, as the President of the United States and with an anti-environmental majority in the U.S. Senate and House, he can try hard to do those exact things.


One of the most effective tools to STOP TRUMP and his agenda in Congress is to fight them in the courts. The GOOD NEWS is that Save The Colorado is an aggressive organization and we are already geared up to do exactly that! We have a team of attorneys and scientists, and we are poised to wage court battles against new proposed dams and diversions in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and across the Colorado River basin.

Your donation to Save The Colorado will be timely, strategic, and make a real difference in our ability to fight these court battles and protect the Colorado River from more dams and diversions.

EVEN MORE GOOD NEWS! If you donate $35 or more before the end of 2016, we will send you a free signed copy of my brand new book, RIVER WARRIOR: FIGHTING river-warrior-cover1TO PROTECT THE WORLD’S RIVERS!

Hot off the presses, River Warrior is a collection of my writings and activism over the last few years and contains 30 articles and 94 color photographs that have been published in the Denver Post, USA Today, Waterkeeper Magazine, Canoe and Kayak, EcoWatch, and scores of regional newspapers across the Colorado River basin.

River Warrior’s 162 pages are filled with my eco-adventure travels and impassioned voice about saving rivers in Peru, Thailand, Belize, Mexico, Columbia, and Costa Rica, as well as the COLORADO RIVER and Cache la Poudre River in the U.S.

My river-saving activism has generated over a thousand news stories and has been profiled in the New York Times, NPR, Rachel Maddow, BBC, and Los Angeles Times. Dozens of media outlets across the Colorado River basin have covered Save The Colorado’s viewpoint, and our voice for the Colorado River is an integral piece of the public dialogue.

Much of that has happened because of your past support! Now we need your support even more!


Gary Wockner, PhD, Executive Director, Save The Colorado

By donating $35 or more before the end of 2016, you will help us FIGHT TRUMP IN COURT which is one of the most effective forms of advocacy an environmental group can do when the wheels of power have changed against the environment.

You will also get a FREE SIGNED COPY of my brand new book, RIVER WARRIOR.

To STOP TRUMP and SAVE THE COLORADO RIVER, we all need to become RIVER WARRIORS. Click here to donate to Save The Colorado and please join us today!

THANK YOU for your support!

Gary Wockner

Nine Problems with the “Colorado River Policy” White Paper

November 1, 2016
Save The Colorado

Nine Problems with the “Colorado River Policy” White Paper

Today, a self-appointed group people calling themselves the “Colorado River Future Project Team” released a short White Paper summarizing their positions — and those of hand-picked survey respondents — on Colorado River policy. The survey appears to be intended to give advice to the next Secretary of Interior.

Save The Colorado finds a few things to support in this white paper, as well as several serious shortcomings.

The White Paper does a good job of discussing:

1. the need to move forward with “Minute 32x” and the negotiations with Mexico to restore a small streamflow back to the Colorado River Delta where it no longer meets the Sea of Cortez.

2. the need to stabilize Lake Mead with lower basin action.


The White Paper does a poor job on these issues:

1. fails to interview a range of environmental groups and leaders who hold disparate opinions than the self-appointed and hand-picked group.

2. fails to mention “Climate Change” which is a dramatic shortcoming.

3. fails to discuss almost any of the environmental or ecological problems with the Colorado River including endangered fish recovery, massive habitat degradation in the Grand Canyon and other reservoir-flooded canyons, and drained and depleted flows on the mainstem of the river and many of its tributaries.

4. fails to discuss population growth which is the driver of much of the “crisis.”

5. fails to take a position on the multiple proposed new dams and diversions in the upper basin that would further drain the entire river.

6. fails to realistically discuss the controversy around upper basin “drought contingency planning” including that it would potentially try to drain upper basin reservoirs and farms in order to prop up the hydropower facility at Lake Powell.

7. fails to discuss that the status quo for resolving Native American water rights claims has been to take new water out of the river, which is completely unsustainable.

8. fails to discuss the climate change emissions from methane caused by the operation of Hoover Dam and Glen Canyon Dam.

9. dismisses the dramatic disagreement and likely forthcoming legal fights about a range of issues — new dams, operations of current dams, and Native American water rights issues.

By limiting itself to a narrow band of water policymakers, a few large and like-minded NGOs, and all of their related consultants, the policy direction given to a future Secretary of Interior is likewise narrow and will not address the full range of problems on the Colorado River or resolve the “crisis.” The ecological and environmental problems were almost completely ignored in the White Paper.

It’s a river, after all, which is a living breathing ecological system, not simply a water delivery pipeline.


Colorado River Update: Take Action to RESTORE the Grand Canyon!

Hello Amazing Friends of the Colorado River!

We have a once-in-a-lifetime historic opportunity to ask the U.S. government, which manages and controls Glen Canyon Dam and river flows in the Grand Canyon, to take a bold step forward to RESTORE the Grand Canyon!

Click Here to Send an Email and Take Action!

plane-gc-opt-take-actionTen days ago the U.S. Dept. of Interior released the Glen Canyon Dam management plan “Final Environmental Impact Statement” (FEIS) and put it out for a 30-day public review.

We reviewed the FEIS and it has serious problems. First, it does not take climate change seriously and relies on old science that underestimates the impact climate change will have on flows in the Colorado River. Second, it fails to even consider removing Glen Canyon Dam as a viable alternative even though drought and climate change are draining both Lakes Powell and Mead to historic lows with no end in sight. Third, it fails to comply with the Endangered Species Act. And Fourth, it fails to analyze the climate change emissions that are caused by the dam.

Save The Colorado and other groups have sent the Dept. of Interior dozens of pages of technical and legal documents that fully describe the 4 problems above. In addition, the public — THAT’S YOU! — has the right to send them an email and express your concern for the problems in the FEIS. 

For over 50 years, Glen Canyon Dam has completely blocked the Colorado River before it reaches the Grand Canyon. This blockage is just like blocking an artery in a person’s body — it has stopped the flow of warm water, sediment, nutrients, and pulses of high flows that helped carve and sustain the Grand Canyon for millions of years. Glen Canyon Dam now sends down a cold, sterile, steady flow of water that is irrevocably damaging the Grand Canyon, draining its virility and health.


We have until Nov. 14th to make all of our voices heard in this 30-day review period. Please send them an email. We need to RESTORE the Grand Canyon!

Thank You For Taking Action!

PRESSER: Colorado River Destruction Projects Delayed Until 2017

Oct. 21, 2016
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310
Colorado River Destruction Projects Delayed Until 2017

Colorado River, USA:

Today the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers informed the public that the permitting process for the two proposed new dams and diversion out of the Upper Colorado River in the state of Colorado would be postponed until “2017.”See link:

The “Moffat Collection System Project” proposes to take a new 15,000 acre feet of water out of the river; the “Windy Gap Firming Project” proposes to take a new 30,000 feet of water out of the river.

“These projects would further drain and destroy the Colorado River and its tributaries,” said Gary Wockner, Director of Save The Colorado. “At the very same time that the Colorado River hovers near an ‘official shortage’ and the combined storage in lakes Mead and Powell are near the lowest point in history, the best thing the Corps could do is postpone these projects forever.”

The Moffat Project proposes to build the “Tallest Dam In The History Of Colorado” at 460 feet.


Hoover Dam vs Najavo Powerplant — Who’s the biggest climate polluter?


Over the last few weeks, several scientific studies have confirmed that the methane emissions from hydropower dams and reservoirs can big very big, and in some cases hydropower can emit as much CO2e (Carbon Dioxide Equivalents) as coal powerplants. Studies have confirmed this in tropical areas of the planet over the last two decades, but recent studies have also estimated similar emissions in dry and termperate climates in the U.S.

On Sept 16, 2016, a scientific study in PLOS: One estimated CO2e at Hoover Dam to be approximately the same as coal-fired powerplants. See graph below: screenshot-506

Hoover Dam produces an average of 4,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity per year.
The Navajo Coal Powerplant produces an average of 16,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity per year.

Because Navajo coal powerplant is 4 times larger, it produces about 4 times more climate change emissions than Hoover Dam, although the CO2e is estimated to be similar at both plants.



PRESS RELEASE: U.S. Dept. of Interior Admits Glen Canyon Dam Produces Dirty Energy Due To Methane Emissions

For Immediate Release
October 11, 2016
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310

U.S. Dept. of Interior Admits Glen Canyon Dam Produces Dirty Energy Due To Methane Emissions

New science estimates greenhouse gas emissions from Glen Canyon Dam are equal to 193 million cars on the road/year or burning 976 billion pounds of coal/year.
Hoover Dam is over 4 times worse and as bad as coal.

Colorado River, USA: Last week, the U.S. Dept. of Interior (Interior) released its long-awaited Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for its Long-term Experimental and Management Plan (LTEMP) for Glen Canyon Dam. Responding to comments that Save The Colorado put into the Draft EIS, Interior admits that Glen Canyon Dam produces dirty energy in the form of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from methane.

Section 1.6 in Appendix Q, page Q-14, of the FEIS is titled, “Methane Emissions From Lake Powell That Contribute To Climate Change” and states:

“Reservoirs such as Lake Powell would be expected to produce some amount of GHG emissions consistent with levels reported for reservoirs in the semiarid Western U.S.”

“For the first time in history, the Dept. of Interior admits that Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell produce greenhouse gases that cause climate change,” said Gary Wockner, Director of Save The Colorado. “However, the FEIS underestimates these emissions by referring to a 12-year old study, and thus fails to use the best available science to account for these emissions.”

Just four weeks ago, on Sept 16, 20016, a peer-reviewed article was published in the journal PLOS: ONE by Swiss scientists that includes an estimate of methane emissions from Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell. Titled, “Hydropower’s Biogenic Carbon Footprint,” the article estimates greenhouse gas emissions to be “228.833 kg of CO2e/MWH” – or (stated in words) “228.833 kilograms of ‘Carbon Dioxide Equivalents’ per Megawatt Hour” – due to the release of methane at Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell (see “S1 Table” line 307 for “Glen Canyon Dam” column “AO”).

The “S1 Table” is used to produce “Figure 2” (below*) in the PLOS: ONE article, which estimates the carbon footprint of various electricity sources, including those for over 1,473 dams around the world, and including the hydropower facilities at both Glen Canyon and Hoover dams.


Given that Glen Canyon Dam produces an average of 4,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity per year, that multiples to over 915 billion kilograms of CO2e. Using the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s online GHG calculator, the yearly emissions from Glen Canyon Dam equal approximately the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as 193 million cars on the road per year or the burning of 976 billion pounds of coal per year.

Further, the CO2e estimate at Hoover Dam and Lake Mead is over 4 times higher, at 1,079 kg of CO2e/MWH, and its GHGs are also dramatically higher due to the even greater amount of electricity Hoover Dam produces (see “S1 Table” line 106 for “Hoover Dam” column “AO”). The study estimates the greenhouse gas emissions from Hoover Dam to be as bad as the worst coal-fired powerplants.

These estimates stand in stark contrast to recent presentations, writings, and statements made by representatives of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), which manages both dams, and the Dept. of Interior. In February of 2016, the spokesperson for Reclamation made a presentation to the “Law of The River” conference in Las Vegas and said that Glen Canyon Dam hydropower is a “clean carbon-free resource” and the “single largest source of renewable emissions-free electricity in the U.S.” (page 273). The spokesperson has been stating this incorrect information for years, including at the Colorado River Water Users Association (CRWUA) meeting in 2013 (page 13).  And, just 4 weeks ago, Secretary of Interior, Sally Jewell, wrote in a blog on Interior’s webpage, “However, for every Hoover Dam that continues to provide benefits like water supply or clean energy…”, words that she also used a recent CRWUA conferences.

Over the past few weeks, new studies have been published indicating that methane and GHG emissions from hydropower are a significant global problem, including last week’s study led by scientists at Washington State University and funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, and National Science Foundation. That study, titled, “Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Reservoir Water Surfaces: A New Global Synthesis,” was widely reported in the international media (see WSU press report here, the full study here, and Washington Post story here.)

Given the new science of methane emissions from dams, reservoirs, and hydropower – and especially the new study in PLOS: ONE – Save The Colorado makes the following recommendations:

  1. The U.S. Govt. – including Interior, Reclamation, Western Area Power Administration, Bonneville Power Administration, Dept. of Energy, etc., – must stop telling the public and media that hydropower is clean and carbon free.
  2. Due to the significant implications of the PLOS: ONE article, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should review the article and include it in new analyses of methane emissions from hydropower and the implications for climate change.
  3. A team of scientist from the U.S. Govt. should undertake actual methane emissions measurements (rather than estimates) at both Hoover and Glen Canyon dams as soon as possible.
  4. The U.S. Govt. must propose technologies and solutions – including stopping new proposed dams and removing old dams – that complies with the National Environmental Policy Act’s (NEPA) requirement to “avoid, minimize or mitigate” environmental impacts, and complies with the Obama Administration’s 2016 “Final Guidance on Greenhouse Gases and Climate Change.”
  5. The Glen Canyon Dam LTEMP FEIS is not accurate and must be redone.

“Hoover and Glen Canyon hydropower dams have caused irrevocable damage to the Colorado River and have been replicated as models to dam, drain, and destroy rivers across the planet,” said Gary Wockner. “With hundreds of new dams under construction around the world, and with thousands more planned – all under the guise of “clean and carbon-free energy” – we are now learning that these dams are making climate change worse, and perhaps cataclysmically so. Scientists, governments, and activists must take strong steps to avoid, minimize, and mitigate these climate change emissions including stopping new dams and removing old ones.”

“We’re not advocating tearing down Hoover Dam, but this science is another of the many factors indicating that Glen Canyon Dam should be considered for removal,” said Wockner.

[*Note: Save The Colorado communicated with the article's author to interpret the results and confirm the emissions from Glen Canyon and Hoover dams in Figure 2. The article does not advocate for stopping or removing dams; that advocacy is the position of Save The Colorado.]


PRESS RELEASE: Glen Canyon Dam LTEMP FEIS Fails To Fix The Colorado River

For Immediate Release
October 7, 2016
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310

Colorado River, USA: Today the U.S. Dept of Interior released the “Final Environmental Impact Statement” (FEIS) for the “Long Term Experimental and Management Plan” (LTEMP) for Glen Canyon Dam. The FEIS is here.

glen-canyon-damAfter a quick initial review, Save The Colorado has determined:

  • The FEIS fails to consider all alternatives to fix the ecological problems at Glen Canyon and Grand Canyon, including the alternative of dam removal.
  • The FEIS fails to consider alternatives that comply with the Endangered Species Act and actually “recover” the endangered fish rather than breeding and stocking them forever.
  • The FEIS fails to take climate change seriously and does not include a full range of scientific studies about how climate change would negatively impact flows in the Colorado River.
  • The FEIS fails to adequately account for the methane emissions from operating Glen Canyon Dam.

“At first blush, the FEIS fails to comply with federal law,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Colorado. “The Colorado River system is failing — it’s failing to protect fish, failing to protect water supplies, and failing under the weight of climate change. The Dept of Interior has failed to consider alternatives for Glen Canyon Dam that meet the needs of the environment and the public, including dam removal.”

The Dept of Interior is allowing a “30-day public review” of the FEIS. Save The Colorado will be fully analyzing the FEIS in the next few weeks and plans to submit more comments into the process.


PRESS RELEASE: Moffat Project Fails The Checklist Criteria For Building The Tallest Dam In The History Of Colorado

For Immediate Release
Sept 30, 2016
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310

Moffat Collection System Project Fails The Colorado Water Plan Checklist Criteria For Building The Tallest Dam In The History Of Colorado

Boulder, CO: The Boulder-based policy group, Western Resource Advocates, has created a “Colorado Water Plan Project Criteria Checklist” for evaluating potential new water projects in Colorado. Here’s the reasons why the Moffat Collection System grossdam1Project (which would take a new 4 billion gallons of water out of the Colorado River every year and massively expand Gross Reservoir in Boulder County to build the tallest dam in the history of Colorado) does not meet the checklist criteria:

1. Do local communities support this proposal? NO

The thousand or more families that live near and around Gross Reservoir in Boulder County oppose the proposal, as do many people in Grand County. They have united together under the banner of TEG-Colorado to move their opposition forward. In addition, other environmental groups who have members in those local communities also oppose this proposal

2. Does the project fulfill real water needs? NO
In fact, Denver Water doesn’t even need the water — as their population grows, their water use is going lower and lower. See this post.

3. Can it be done sustainably, avoiding harm to the environment? NO
Groups opposing the project have created a 2-page list of the many negative impacts to the community and environment. See list here.

4. Can we afford it? NO
Denver Water could spend just half the estimated $380 million on conservation, efficiency, and other alternative water supply methods and easily create an even larger reduction in their water use.

Moffat Collection System Project = TOTAL FAIL ON THE CHECKLIST CRITERIA


Colorado River Update! Help Us Stop The Tallest Dam In Colorado In 50 Years!

Hello Friends of the Colorado River!

Can you believe the audacity?!? In the state of Colorado, there’s a huge new dam proposed for Colorado River water, and the people wanting to build it are actually bragging that it would be the chimney-hollow-dam-mwhTallest Dam Built in Colorado in 50 Years.”


At the exact moment in history where the Colorado River has been almost completely drained for human consumption, where the river is on the verge of a “shortage declaration,” where both Lake Mead and Lake Powell are at the combined lowest storage level in history, not only does this water agency in Northern Colorado want to build a new dam that would drain over 9 billion gallons of water out of the river every year, they are even bragging about how tall the dam would be.

To that we say:

The project is called the “Windy Gap Firming Project” and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has not yet issued a permit for this project. But if they do, we have a team of scientists and attorneys who will scour the permit to see if it complies with federal law. The documents we have seen so far indicate that the massive dam and reservoir project would likely violate the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. In fact, if this project is built, only 25% of the river’s natural water would still flow in Grand County, Colorado, the rest being diverted across the continental divide for massive sprawl and subdivisions along the north Denver corridor.

What Can You Do To Help? 

Please donate to Save The Colorado now by clicking here.

Our team of researchers is poised to take action, and your support will help us dig into this project and force the Army Corps of Engineers to do the right thing. In the documents we have seen from the Corps, they have so-far failed to take water conservation seriously, failed to fully analyze the ecological impacts to the river’s fish and habitat, failed to consider how climate change will further diminish flows in the river, and failed to consider alternatives to the massive dam and diversion including leasing or buying water from farmers.



In addition to addressing the threat of this project, we have also been bird-dogging all the other proposed new dams and diversions. Denver Water’s proposed Moffat Project is at the top of our list. Utah’s Lake Powell Pipeline proposal is in our sites. Wyoming’s Fontenelle Dam project proposal is being monitored closely.

Your donation will support specific, timely, actions to protect and restore the Colorado River and its tributaries, which is our exact mission.

This fall is going to be exciting for the Colorado River! Stay tuned for all of the action, and thank you for your support!