Colorado River Update: Your Voice Made A Difference!

Hello Friends of the Colorado River!

First, your voice made a difference! A few weeks ago we asked you to send emails to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers asking them to study climate change in their analyses of proposed dam projects in Colorado. Over 750 of you sent those emails, and the Army Corps responded by saying they are delaying the permit decisions on those two gross-1234projects until 2016 (see our press release here). As we’ve discussed several times in these blog posts, the Colorado River is already severely drained and depleted, and so it makes no sense to be draining even more water out of it at the top of the basin.

We are happy that the Army Corps has delayed the permit decision on these projects, and while we remain hopeful that the Army Corps will deny the permits, we stand ready to fight the permits if the projects are approved. The two projects — Moffat Collection System Project and Windy Gap Firming Project — would take an additional 50,000 acre feet of water out of the Colorado River, further threatening the ecological health of the river and the species that depend on it for survival. Thank you for speaking out — we will remain vigilant!

Second, we are going to need your voice again in the near future! The State of Utah has indicated that they will be formally launching the permitting process for the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline. This pipeline would be a massive boondoggle to drain lake-powell-pipeline-routemore water (90,000 acre feet!) out of the Colorado River near Lake Powell and pipe it over to Southwest Utah to fuel and subsidize exponential population growth. Working with our environmental colleagues in Utah, we are going to tackle this fight head on throughout the permitting process.

A scientific study by Western Resource Advocates proved that the project was unnecessary (read it here), and an economic study done by university economists in Utah indicated that the project would basically bankrupt the county that is proposing the pipeline by raising water rates astronomically (read it here). We remain committed to fighting this project and we will let you know when it’s the right time to send emails, phone calls, and letters to the federal government in the coming months.

Third, some mixed news in Colorado. Over the past year, 1,750 of you sent emails to the State of Colorado urging them to focus on water conservation and river protection Screenshot (511)as they drafted the Colorado Water Plan. Just last week the water plan was delivered to Colorado’s Governor, John Hickenlooper, and it contains some good news and some bad news. I wrote a column titled, “Colorado Water Plan: A Missed Opportunity,” which has appeared in several newspapers in Colorado.

The Colorado Water Plan does indeed focus on water conservation, and it has some OK ideas in it about river protection. But, it also contains plans for 400,000 acre feet of new “storage,” which essentially means more dams, diversions, and reservoirs. So, we made some progress in this endeavor, but we are going to have to remain vigilant in the future. We are deeply committed to stopping new dams and diversions, and to protecting the Colorado River and its tributaries in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico.

Speaking of New Mexico, some bad news there! Yesterday, the U.S. Dept. of Interior decided to move forward with permitting studies for the proposed Gila River Diversion, water-pipelinewhich would take a new 12,000 acre feet of water out of the Gila River in New Mexico (read the news story here). Despite a massive outcry from local river advocates in New Mexico, and despite getting 2,500 emails from you folks on this email list, the federal government is moving forward with this zombie water project anyway.

The permitting process can take years, and we offer our support to the local groups in New Mexico that are fighting the project. Once again, the federal government dropped the ball and is considering this river-draining project when they should have focused on water conservation and efficiency. We will keep you informed about when to weigh in with phone calls, emails, and letters as the permitting process moves forward.

What will El Nino do to Southern Calfornia and the Colorado River? Forecasters predict that this El Nino will be the strongest in recorded history, and may Screenshot (512)drench Southern California through the winter and spring of 2015 and 2016. Take a look at this Los Angeles Times story, “Massive El Nino gains strength, may drench key California drought zone.”

If the El Nino also drops a lot of snow on the Rocky Mountains in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming, it may fundamentally change the drought situation throughout the Colorado River system and the Southwest U.S. Scientists also believe that the massive El Nino has been made worse by climate change and may wreak havoc across the globe bringing droughts and floods to different areas of the planet. We will keep you informed about how the El Nino progresses so that our programs to protect and restore the Colorado River are pertinent and timely in 2016 and beyond.

Finally, did you know that wild turkeys are native species to much of the Colorado River ecosystem, and when a group of turkeys get together it is called a “rafter?” Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Stay tuned for more news you can use, and thank you for your support!




Colorado Water Plan a “Missed Opportunity”

Media Statement
Nov. 19, 2015
Save The Colorado. Contact Gary Wockner: 970-218-8310

“The Colorado Water Plan has been a missed opportunity. Instead of focusing on changing the system to be more sustainable — using conservation, growth management, and sharing water with farmers — the Plan also proposes to further drain and destroy the already degraded rivers of Colorado and even across state lines. In the climate-changed world we increasingly face, Colorado needs systemic change in its water policies to ensure river protection as well as water supplies for people. Our organization is committed to fighting to stop new dams and diversions, and to protecting the rivers of Colorado for future generations of people and all of the non-human critters that rely on rivers for their survival.” — Gary Wockner

Gary Wockner, PhD, Executive Director
Save the Colorado
PO Box 1066, Fort Collins, CO 80522



For Immediate Release
November 6, 2015
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310


Denver, CO: Today the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers again delayed its “Record of Decision” for Denver Water’s “Moffat Collection System Project,” an extremely controversial scheme to further drain the Upper Colorado River, massively expand a dam in Boulder County, Colorado, and send more water to the sprawling Denver suburbs.

The notice is on the Corps’ website here:

The new date for the decision is “2016,” which was just changed from “Fall of 2015.”

Over the last few months, Save The Colorado has been intensely bird-dogging the project. Over 700 Save The Colorado supporters sent emails to the Corps demanding that the Corps consider climate change in the permitting process, which the Corps so far has not.  Further, Save The Colorado sent a detailed technical analysis to the Corps pointing out that Denver Water doesn’t even need more water. In fact, as Denver’s population has increased, their total water use has actually decreased.

“This river-destroying scheme is unnecessary and exorbitantly expensive,” said Gary Wockner, E.D. of Save The Colorado of the $350 million project. “Denver Water doesn’t even need the water and the Corps has not considered climate change in its analysis.”

Save The Colorado’ analysis sent to the Corps (here) included this graph of Denver Water’s actual water use:
Screenshot (479)

Further, Denver Water’s CEO, Jim Lochhead, tweeted just yesterday the exact same information which exemplifies how the Moffat Project is unneeded:
Screenshot (480)

“All over the Southwest U.S., water use is decreasing dramatically even as population grows,” said Wockner. “Denver Water needs to stop this wasteful, destructive project right now and focus on the cheap, easy, fast method to get more water — conservation.”


Save The Colorado Update: No! More! Dams!

Hello Friends of the Colorado River!

“When you’re in a hole, stop digging.”

Scientists, government agencies, environmental activists, and news reports have all agreed — the Colorado River is in a hole. A prolonged 15-year drought, encroaching climate change, and massive human mismanagement have caused the Colorado River to be at its most degraded state in history. Water levels in the main reservoirs — Mead sor-capitol-smalland Powell — are at their lowest level in history, and all predictions for future water levels and river flows indicate more degradation.

But, insanely, the Upper Basin states of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico are still digging, as all four states are proposing and planning for even more dams and diversions of water out of the Colorado River and its tributaries.

Save The Colorado’s policy is “No New Dams and Diversions” and we are committed to fighting all of the proposals on the table right now!

In Colorado, we are leading the fight and rapidly putting together a legal team and resources to fight two projects — the Moffat Project and Windy Gap Project — that would dam and divert more water out of the Colorado River. Both of these projects are at the very end of the permitting stages, and we are gearing up for major legal battles. We are also deeply engaged in the Colorado Water Plan process, trying to make sure it does 618_348_yvon-chouinard-fights-the-food-industrynot support more dams and diversions.

In Wyoming, we are keeping close tabs on the State’s plan for “10 New Dams in 10 Years,” and if any of those proposals move forward on the Green River or other tributaries of the Colorado River, we will be right on top of them. We are also monitoring the “Fontanelle Dam Expansion” on the Green River so that when it triggers a permitting process, we will engage head on.

In New Mexico, we have provided outreach support to the local groups fighting the proposed Gila River Diversion which is a tributary to the Colorado River. When that project triggers a permitting process, we will engage to help fight it.

In Utah, we are helping local groups gear up to fight the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline, a massive boondoggle to drain a large amount of water out of the Colorado River to slake the never-ending thirst of population growth in the southwest part of the state. We are also monitoring the State’s water planning process, the director of which said he wants “dams on every river in Utah.”

In every one of these fights, we are also focusing on alternatives that would better meet the water supply needs of the local communities. In nearly every case, alternative water supply options including conservation, efficiency, recycling and reuse, and working with farmers is a faster, cheaper, and easier way to get new water that doesn’t further drain 274716465_545e8cddec_band destroy the amazing Colorado River system.

Save The Colorado is engaged in several programmatic activities in addition to fighting dams. We fight dirty energy and climate change, work to protect habitat including the Grand Canyon, and promote dam removal whenever possible. And on that note, our action item for this week is to reach out to Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva and thank him for introducing the Grand Canyon Watersheds Protection Act into the U.S. House. The Act would finally ban uranium mining in the Grand Canyon watershed and provide additional protections for that amazing resource forever. Click through here to our Facebook page to “like” and “Thank” Congressman Grijalava.

Thank you for your support and stay tuned for all the action!


PRESS RELEASE: Engineer Wants New Colorado Nuke Plant To Provide Water To Cities

For Immediate Release
October 20, 2015
Contact: Gary Wockner, E.D., Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310

AWRA Hosts Eccentric Idea to Rekindle St. Vrain Nuclear Powerplant to Purify and Deliver South Platte River Water to the Front Range

Denver, CO: At its October 27, 2015 meeting the American Water Resources Association’s Colorado Section is hosting a “program” by the President of Aquacraft Inc. to present the idea of rekindling Colorado’s closed-down St. Vrain Nuclear Powerplant in order to use the heat from the reactors to purify highly polluted water in the South Platte River, and then to send that water to municipalities along the Front Range (see link here). The program announcement says the technology can help fill the “gap” in water demand identified by the Colorado Water Plan process.

“Building a nuclear powerplant to drain the South Platte River to provide water for lawns in suburbs along the Front Range of Colorado ranks as one of the newest and most ‘eccentric’ ideas we’ve seen so far in the Colorado Water Plan process,” said Gary Wockner of Save The Colorado and Save The Poudre. “Why not just build a pipeline from Mars instead?”

Save The Colorado points out that conservation, efficiency, and buying water from farmers is always a faster, easier, and cheaper way to get water.  In fact, if just 10% of all of the farm water in Colorado was transferred to cities, it would fill the gap through the year 2050.

“We don’t have a water gap,” said Wockner. “We have a gap in common sense that is keeping our society from embracing the fastest, easiest, cheapest solution to Colorado’s water problems.”


PRESS RELEASE: Colorado River-Destruction Cartel Makes Its Move In State Legislature

For Immediate Release
October 16, 2015
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310

Colorado River-Destruction Cartel Makes Its Move In State Legislature
Bills would completely gut state and federal permitting process to fast-track new dams

Denver, CO: Today, two draft bills were made public in a Colorado legislative committee that would completely gut the state and federal permitting process for new dams and reservoirs in the state of Colorado. The bills are a part of the “Colorado Water Plan” process that is almost nearing its end and was began by an executive order from Governor Hickenlooper in 2013.

Bill 4 would completely gut the state permitting process, taking it away from the water quality, wildlife, and public health professionals in the state government, and turn the permitting over to the Colorado “Office of the State Engineer.”

Bill 5 would take the permitting process away from the federal government — completely gutting the role of the EPA, Army Corps, and Bureau of Reclamation — and turn that all over to the Colorado “Office of the State Engineer.”

“The Colorado river-destruction cartel is making its move in the state legislature,” said Gary Wockner of the Save The Colorado and Save The Poudre organizations. “The Colorado Water Plan process has been gearing up to this — if they can gut permitting, it will create an unstoppable dam-building and river-destruction frenzy across the state.”

The Colorado Water Plan has already made clear that it supports “fully developing compact entitlements” to the state’s water so that no water leaves state boundaries that is not required by federal law. At a meeting this week of the Denver Chamber of Commerce, the power of Colorado’s business community was on full display where it gave its “wish list” to the state board that is creating the Colorado Water Plan which included “reservoir expansion” and it “called on Governor Hickenlooper to take the lead improving the permitting process…”  The Colorado Water Plan itself also directly calls for changing the permitting process (chapter 9, slide 12).

“Colorado thinks it owns up to 1 million acre feet of water out of the Colorado River that it has not yet developed, and the state water plan proposes new dams and reservoirs on other rivers across the state,” said Wockner. “Whether you’re in Las Vegas, Las Cruces, or Los Angeles, you better be paying attention because what happens in Colorado does not stay in Colorado.”

The bills will be heard in the Interim Water Resources Review Committee of the Colorado State Legislature on October 29th.

The Colorado Water Plan is expected to be delivered to Governor Hickenlooper on November 19th.


Colorado River Update: Los Angeles launches water recycling plan!

Hello Friends of the Colorado River!

“The world is run by those who show up.”

A few months ago I sat in the office of Bill Hasencamp, who is Colorado River Program Director for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California which is the largest municipal water district in the Southwest U.S. and serves water to all of Southern California.  Hasencamp and I come from different perspectives when we look at the Colorado River — my mission is to get more water in the river, his mission is to get water out of the river — and so I did not know what to expect during our conversation. Over a 90-minute discussion, I was actually stunned at how much we had Screenshot (409)in common and at how many issues we agreed on, and I left the meeting feeling more hopeful and energetic than I hardly ever feel after leaving meetings with water agency managers. For example, here’s what Hasencamp and I discussed and what I thought we generally agreed on:

1. Much more can be done to conserve, reuse, and recycle water in the cities across Southern California and all throughout the Colorado River basin.

2. Agricultural water efficiency, fallowing, and decisions about which crops to grow, are the biggest opportunity for addressing the drought and water shortages across the Southwest U.S. And, using Colorado River water to grow hay in the desert and then ship that hay to China needs to be rethought.

3. Interstate water transfers should be legalized — i.e, if Colorado wants to sell water to Nevada, then Colorado should be allowed to do that.

4. With the entire Colorado River system in so much stress, its difficult to discuss draining even more water out of the river in the top of the basin in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah, because, after all, “We are all in this together.”

Bill Hasencamp

Bill Hasencamp

5. The complete draining and destruction of the Colorado River Delta was an environmental disaster, and his agency wants to continue being a part of the solution to restoring a small streamflow back to the Delta.

And so I wasn’t surprised this week when the District announced they were investing in a large new water recycling plant to turn sewage into drinking water (see story in Los Angeles Times here), a technology that is already used across the world and in neighboring Orange and San Diego Counties. Wastewater recycling — often called “Toilet to Tap” — is a cheaper, easier, and faster way to get new water supplies than building new dams and reservoirs or than desalinating sea water.

Hasencamp and I didn’t agree on everything. It is my opinion that, because the system is so stressed due to drought and climate change, we should be seriously looking at draining Lake Powell and tearing down Glen Canyon Dam, and then storing the excess water in Lake Mead and in underground aquifers in California and Arizona. Hasencamp didn’t take a position on the issue, but he was certainly aware of the debate and listened respectfully to my opinion.

The whole discussion drove home one amazing point: Thirty years ago if you would have approached the Metropolitan Water District with ideas about recycling toilet water, restoring the Colorado River Delta, and tearing down dams, they would likely have not taken the meeting or laughed you out of the room. Times change. Opportunities change. Climates change. When we do this work as environmental advocates, it is always important to strongly push the right ideas forward — perhaps we are years too early and the public isn’t ready for the discussion, but the public and water managers will never be ready for the discussion if we don’t push, push, push the right ideas forward now.

Two weeks ago, I sent you an “Action Alert” asking you to push the right ideas forward to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about climate change and new dam proposals in Colorado. 700 of you took action, and thank you for doing it! The Army Corps got the emails and responded to me by saying they would consider the comments prior to their “Record of Decision” for the projects. (Click here to Take Action if you haven’t done so!)

Thank you for showing up! 

Stay tuned for more news and action to protect and restore the Colorado River!


What’s Wrong With The Colorado Water Plan, And How To Fix It

What’s Wrong With The Colorado Water Plan, And How To Fix It
September 29, 2015

I was recently asked to speak about the Colorado Water Plan at a State Legislative Forum in Fort Collins. After two years of engagement with the Plan and its process, and after the 2nd draft was released, here’s what I told the legislators and the public was wrong with the Colorado Water Plan and how to fix it.

1. The Plan is based on Governor Hickenlooper’s Executive Order which tries to minimize the amount of water farmers sell to cities. I disagree with the Governor. I believe that farmers should be able to sell their water if they want to. Further, Colorado has a very long and successful history of transferring water from farms to cities. In fact, if just 10% of all water used on farms in Colorado was transferred to growing cities, it would completely cover the state’s theorized “gap” in future demand out to the year Screenshot (398)2060. To fix this problem, state water planners need to allow farmers to sell their water and to make it easier to do so, either by a “Traditional Transfer Mechanism” (buy and dry) or an “Alternative Transfer Mechanism” (like rotational fallowing).

2. The Colorado Water Plan process has been corrupt. The statewide Plan is based on the “Basin Implementation Plans” which are written by “Basin Roundtables,” groups of self-appointed individuals along the Front Range that have vested interests in seeing new dams/diversions built, or have a deep investment in making sure the status quo continues. As one example, environmentalists who oppose the status quo have been purposely excluded from the South Platte and Metro Roundtables, which are the two biggest municipal water users in the state. To fix this problem, the process needs to be truncated now, and a new diverse set of stakeholders need to rewrite the Basin Implementation Plans.

3. Because of the flaws in the Governor’s Executive Order and the corruption of the process, the product is very heavily skewed towards supporting the status quo of building more dams/diversions that would further drain and destroy Colorado’s rivers. To fix this problem, the Plan needs to focus solely on “alternative water supply methods” that are faster, cheaper, and easier, such as water conservation and efficiency, water reuse and recycling, growth management, and working with farmers to transfer water to cities. Further, concerned citizens should fight to stop new proposed dam/diversion projects so that alternatives are allowed to flourish.

4. The Plan does not contain remotely enough information and support for river protection and restoration. While the Plan proposes $20 billion for new projects, only $5 million of that appears to be directly for river restoration. Many of Colorado’s rivers have Screenshot (399)been almost completely drained and destroyed, but the Plan doesn’t even come close to addressing this egregious history of environmental destruction. Further, the Plan does not even discuss “dam removal” as a mechanism to restore rivers, an activity that is flourishing across the U.S. and has occurred on the Cache la Poudre River in northern Colorado. To fix this problem, the Plan needs to focus dramatically more attention and resources on protecting and restoring the rivers across Colorado. A “river renaissance” is occurring across Colorado whereby local communities are protecting, restoring, and revaluing their local rivers — the state should aggressively join this effort.

5. The Plan discusses the problems with permitting new dam/diversion projects, but completely fails to discuss the real truth of the issue, and here it is: When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation go through a permitting process, they purposely don’t hire unbiased, peer-reviewed, scientists to do the work. Instead, they contract the “Environmental Impact Statement” out to large multi-national engineering corporations that have a vested interest in seeing the project permitted, and thus grossly skew the analyses making a complete charade of the supposed “science” that an EIS requires. Thus, public comments are always extremely negative about the EIS, and the Corps continues to go through iteration after iteration, taking years and millions of dollars. To fix this problem, the Corps needs to hire real, unbiased, peer-reviewed scientists to create EIS’, not biased engineering firms that make their livings building dams and large construction projects.

6. The Plan proposes to “fully develop compact entitlements” to Colorado’s water supplies by making sure not one drop of water leaves the state in a river that is not required to by federal law. This policy proposal is anti-environmental, unethical, and provincial. Rivers across state boundaries also need water to be healthy. To fix this problem, the Plan should protect rivers in Colorado and across state lines, making sure enough water leaves the state so that each river is healthy when it crosses state boundaries.

7. The Plan proposes that $20 billion needs to be spent to “fill the gap” (build the new dam/diversion/reservoir projects) that will come from all of the new population growth heading to Colorado in the next 45 years. Thus the Plan proposes many statewide funding mechanisms — including taxes and bonds — to pay this enormous price-tag. Such statewide funding concepts are simply massive subsidies to the growth and development industry to make it easier, faster, and cheaper for Colorado’s population to double. To fix this problem, the state should let local governments address their ‘water and money gap’ on their own. As such, some cities may choose not to grow, or may choose to force the growth to pay its own way, rather than having it subsidized by state taxpayers.

Gary Wockner, PhD, Executive Director, Save The Colorado

STOP MOFFAT: Why we oppose Denver Water’s river draining, dam-expansion plan

STOP MOFFAT: Why we oppose Denver Water’s river draining, dam-expansion plan

Save The Colorado has taken a formal position in opposition to Denver Water’s Moffat Collection System Project. We oppose the project for these Top Ten Reasons:

1. The Moffat Project would further drain and destroy the Fraser River and its tributaries in Grand County.

2. The Moffat Project would further drain the Upper Colorado River, which has been named one of the Most Endangered Rivers in America, and is already near the brink of collapse.

gross-1233. The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Moffat Project was filled with fatal flaws.

4. The proposed mitigation for the project won’t even remotely mitigate the impacts to the rivers, streams, habitat, and fisheries in Grand County and downstream.

5. Denver Water says it “needs” the water, but nearly half of all of Denver’s current water and future proposed water from Moffat is used to keep lawn’s green for 3 months in Colorado’s late-summer semi-desert environment.

6. The Final Environmental Impact Statement completely fails to address the impact of the diversion on the Colorado River Compact and the potential for a “call on the river” especially in light of future climate change which will further decrease flows.

7. The Moffat Project would require a massive 5-year construction project — the largest in Boulder County history — to expand Gross Dam and Reservoir that would completely disrupt the lives and quality of life of homeowners living near and around the reservoir in Southwestern Boulder County.

8. Denver Water doesn’t need more water, but even if it wants more water it can easily get more water by investing more money in alternative water supply systems including water conservation, efficiency, reuse/recycling, growth management, and working with farmers.

9. The construction project to expand Gross Dam would be a huge emitter of greenhouse gas emissions, an impact that is not studied in the Final Environmental Impact Statement.

10. Instead of hiring independent, peer-reviewed, unbiased scientists to analyze the Moffat Project proposal, the Army Corps of Engineers hired engineering firms — which specialize in building dams and large construction projects — to create the Final Environmental Impact Statement, and thus the entire process is biased and scientifically invalid.

Save The Colorado has inserted numerous documents, comments, and technical reports into the Army Corps of Engineers’ permitting process for the Moffat Project. We are waiting now to see what the Corps will do — they say they will make a permitting decision in the “Fall of 2015.”



For Immediate Release
September 23, 2015
Contact: Gary Wockner, E.D., Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310


Colorado River, USA: As the Pope descends on America bringing new attention to climate change, Save The Colorado is demanding that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) to do the same thing as it considers new permits on water projects that would further drain and destroy the Colorado River.

The Corps is currently in the last stages of the permitting process for two river-

Jim Creek in Grand County, Colorado, a tributary to the Colorado River that is often drained dry by Denver Water

Jim Creek in Grand County, Colorado, a tributary to the Colorado River that is often drained dry by Denver Water

destroying water projects – the Moffat Collection System Project and the Windy Gap Firming Project – which would, collectively, drain a new ~50,000 acre feet of water out of the Upper Colorado River and its tributaries. In wet years, the projects could drain up to 100,000 acre feet (32 BILLION GALLONS), which equals approximately 1 FOOT OF ELEVATION IN LAKE MEAD.

Both projects would divert water out of tributaries to the Upper Colorado River and pipe it under the continental divide over to the sprawling suburbs of the Denver megalopolis primarily to keep lawns green in the summer in Colorado’s semi-desert environment.

At the same time that a “shortage” was almost declared on the Colorado River in Arizona, Nevada, and Southern California in 2015, that a “call on the river” is a commonplace discussion in the Colorado Water Plan process, and that climate change threatens to drain 9%-30% more water out of the river, the Corps may permit projects to drain even more water out of the river at the very top of the Colorado River basin.

In response, Save The Colorado sent two long technical documents to the Corps outlining the threat of climate change and the “call on the river” that could be exacerbated by the new diversions in Colorado. (Document 1 is about Moffat; document 2 is about Windy Gap.)

“The Army Corps must take climate change seriously on the Colorado River,” said Gary Wockner, E.D. of Save The Colorado. “Diverting new water out of the river at the top of the basin will increase the likelihood of a “shortage” and “call on the river” at the bottom of the basin which could completely destabilize water supplies and the Southwest’s economy.”

While the U.S. government allots 16.5 million acre feet (maf) of water to be diverted out of the Colorado River or sent to Mexico (15 maf for the U.S.; 1.5 maf for Mexico) on average each year, over the last 15 years an average of only 12.5 maf has actually flowed in the river due to drought and climate change. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation claims that climate change will likely permanently decrease the amount of water in the river down to 13.7 maf by the year 2060 (see STC’s documents for details).

“The Environmental Impact Statement processes for Moffat and Windy Gap have completely ignored how these new diversions would interact with climate change to force a “call on the river” across the basin,” said Wockner. “The Army Corps of Engineers must analyze this likelihood in order to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act.”

On September 21st, Save The Colorado sent out an action alert to its members asking them to contact the Corps about this issue — 600 people across the Southwest U.S. sent emails to the Corps. The Corps responded:  “Thank you for the comment. It will be considered prior to decision-making.”