Save The Colorado Supports “NOT ONE MORE DROP” at July 25 West Slope “Summit”

PRESS STATEMENT: Summit on the Colorado Water Plan
July 23, 2015
Save The Colorado

The Garfield County, Colorado, Commissioners have invited all the county commissioners from 22 Western Slope Colorado counties to attend a “Summit on the Colorado Water Plan” that is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 25 at Colorado Mountain College in Rifle.  This “Summit” is in response to the “7 points” in the Colorado Water Plan that lay the groundwork for a new large trans-mountain diversion from the Colorado River over to the Denver metropolis. Just such a massive diversion was discussed last week in this Denver Post story here. If such a diversion were to happen, it would likely start a water war across the Southwest U.S. as states fight over the dwindling Colorado River.

These “7 points” have been very controversial. See Aspen Times story here:
The Garfield County Commissioners have put forward a “NOT ONE MORE DROP” proposal to counter the 7 points. The Summit should be a lively event.

“These West Slope commissioners are heading the right direction. Save The Colorado supports a “Not One More Drop” policy for the entire state that should be adopted in the Colorado Water Plan. Colorado’s rivers have already been drained and depleted — it’s high time to focus on conservation, efficiency, growth management, and collaboration with farmers instead of further draining Colorado’s rivers.”  — Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado

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

http://savethecolorado.org


http://www.facebook.com/savethecolorado


https://twitter.com/savethecolorado

970-218-8310

Colorado River Update! It RAINED in Southern California!

Hello Friends of the Colorado River!

It RAIINED In Southern California! The big news of the week is that after months — or was it years?! — the clouds finally opened and poured down a deluge in parched Southern California. This rain follows a wet May and June in the mountains of Colorado singin-in-the-rain-which ran down the Colorado River and began refilling Lake Powell. In addition, because of all of the rain in Colorado, the “crisis” at Lake Mead has now dwindled at least for another year and folks in Southern California say they “dodged a bullet” that was headed for the area.

“Had it not been for those storms, Southern California could have faced 30% to 40% reductions in imported water,” said Jeff Kightlinger, the General Manager at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (read the LA Times story here). Still, the rain in Southern California has not been enough to end the epic drought there, at least for the time being. But, weather forecasters are predicting that California may have a strong “El Nino” year that could bring lots of rain to the area. Kightlinger’s agency is not taking any chances though, and just announced that they are buying farms near Blythe to suck more water over to the Metropolitan’s service area.

Colorado Wants More Dams! We’ve been communicating with you over the last year about the “Colorado Water Plan” which the State government is creating to address rjk-corivertheir purported future water challenges. Two weeks ago the state released the 2nd draft of the plan and now it is out for public comment. There’s good, bad, and ugly in the 2nd draft. On the good side, the plan has more of a focus on water conservation and on “stream management programs” that could eventually help heal some of the river destruction that has historically occurred across the state.

On the bad side, the plan supports an “all of the above” water supply future that includes more dams. On the UGLY side, the plan lays the groundwork for a major new “Trans Mountain Diversion” of water out of the Colorado River to be piped over to the sprawling Denver megalopolis. One of those proposed projects is called the “Yampa River Pumpback” which would take a massive amount of water out of the Yampa — Colorado’s last free-flowing river — and pipe it over to Denver. This Denver Post story discusses that proposal as well as others which prompted Robert F. Kennedy Jr, who is President of the International Waterkeeper Alliance, to say, “The idea of taking more water out of the Colorado River or its tributaries seems like kind of insanity right now.” We agree!  Once again, you can click here and send an email to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper telling him to focus on conservation, not dams, in the Colorado Water Plan.

Bad News In Utah! Last week the State of Utah gave approval to expansion of the first-in-history tar sands mine in the United States. The Utah Division of Oil, Gas, and Mining is allowing the tar sands mine to go forward, though it did place some stipulations on fossil-prehistoricwater quality monitoring (read the story in the Salt Lake Tribune here). The mine has been extremely contentious with grassroots advocates as well as big green environmental groups rallying against it.

The threat of the mine is three-fold: 1) the mine could turn part of Utah in a moonscape like the tar-sand mined area in Alberta, 2) the mine could pollute groundwater and surface water and flow into the Colorado River, and 3) the mine could use a lot of water further stretching limited water supplies across the Southwest U.S.  Big kudos to the environmental groups Living Rivers of Utah and Western Resource Advocates for fighting the expansion. Though the mine may go forward, the stipulations for water quality monitoring are a small victory amidst a bad news event that bodes poorly for the future of Utah.

Finally, last week we ask you to send us photos of DOGS ON PADDLEBOARDS and oh boy did you!  And, we posted them on Facebook. The photo of a dog on a paddleboard on the Colorado River that got the most Facebook “likes’ is below — ENJOY! :-)
sup-doggy

Thank you for your support! Stay tuned for more news and action!

New Belgium Celebrates 8 Years of Success Restoring Colorado River

new_belgium__logoScreenshot (349)

 

Contacts:
Bryan Simpson, New Belgium Brewing, bsimpson@newbelgium.com, 970-494-2698 (o)/970-231-5983 (c)
Seth Cothrun, Sonoran Institute, scothrun@sonoraninstitute.org, 520.290.0828 ext 1110

For Immediate Release
July 20, 2015
Contacts: New Belgium Brewing, Sonoran Institute, Save the Colorado

New Belgium Celebrates 8 Years of Success Restoring Colorado River
July 25th “Colorado River Day” events at the brewery in Fort Collins

Fort Collins, CO – On July 25th, which is the day the U.S. Congress named the “Colorado River” in 1921, New Belgium Brewing is having a day-long celebration of its collaborative success helping to restore the Colorado River. The event is co-sponsored by two conservation groups – the Sonoran Institute and Save the Colorado – and will focus on New Belgium’s support for restoration of the Colorado River Delta. Over the last 8 years, New Belgium has contributed more than $100,000 to efforts — led by the Sonoran Institute — to restore a flow of life and water to the Delta, where the Colorado River runs dry and no longer meets the Sea of Cortez in Mexico.

“We’re proud to support this project in the Colorado River Delta,” said Jenn Vervier, Director of Sustainability and Strategic Development at New Belgium. “The collaborative agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and conservation groups is a model for how we can achieve environmental gains that avoid conflict and benefit all stakeholders.”

For decades the Colorado River has been drained completely dry – all 5 trillion gallons diverted to farms, cities and industries in the U.S. and Mexico. In 2008, New Belgium started funding the Sonoran Institute’s work to restore the Delta, which culminated in the first deliberate release of water back to the river and the sea in the spring of 2014. The Delta ecosystem bloomed with life for the first time in years as the Sonoran Institute’s two decades of work paid off. Conservation groups, including the Sonoran Institute, are currently negotiating with the U.S. and Mexico stakeholders to make the small flow of water a more permanent fixture on the Delta landscape. The Delta project is part of broad conservation efforts by the Sonoran Institute to promote smart water use throughout the Colorado basin.

“The release of water to the Delta was a historic event,” said Francisco Zamora of the Sonoran Institute, who has worked on the project for nearly 20 years. “After years of work, collaboration, and support from philanthropists like New Belgium Brewing, we saw a degraded landscape bloom back to life that many people thought was hopeless.”

The day-long celebration at the brewery will include films from renowned National Geographic filmmaker Pete McBride, Skinny Dip beer specials, and remarks by Francisco Zamora of Sonoran, Jenn Vervier of New Belgium, and Ross Cunniff from the Fort Collins City Council.

Since 2012, Colorado River Day celebrations have occurred across the Southwest U.S. on July 25. The Colorado River – which stretches from the continental divide west of Fort Collins all the way to Mexico – is the source of water for more than 30 million people in the Southwest U.S. and provides about half of the water for New Belgium’s beer.

Event details: Films will be showing all day along with Skinny Dip beer specials. Remarks will begin at 4:00pm

 

ABOUT NEW BELGIUM BREWING

New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire Amber Ale and a host of Belgian-inspired beers, is recognized as one of Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work and one of the Wall Street Journal’s Best Small Businesses. The 100% employee-owned brewery is a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Business as designated by the League of American Bicyclists, and one of World Blu’s most democratic U.S. businesses, and a Certified B Corp. In addition to Fat Tire, New Belgium brews ten year-round beers; Ranger IPA, Rampant Imperial IPA, Slow Ride Session IPA, Snapshot Wheat, Shift Pale Lager, Sunshine Wheat, 1554 Black Ale, Blue Paddle Pilsener, Abbey Belgian Ale and Trippel. Learn more at www.newbelgium.com.

 
ABOUT THE SONORAN INSTITUTE

The Sonoran Institute is a nonprofit organization that inspires and enables community decisions and public policies that respect the land and people of western North America. Join us throughout 2015 in celebrating a landmark 25 Years Strong, Shaping the Future of the West. For more information, visit www.sonoraninstitute.org.

–end–

Colorado River Update: Tom Selleck did NOT steal Colorado River water!

Hello Friends of the Colorado River!

Welcome to the deep middle of summer where the news gets all funky and cattywampus! That’s right, this is our annual edition of really weird Colorado River sellecknews involving celebrities, skeletons, marijuana, and dogs on paddle boards.

First, the top weird news of the week is that Tom Selleck (a.k.a., Magnum PI) did NOT steal Colorado River water. The fire hydrant where Mr. Selleck was alleged to have stolen water is in Calleguas Municipal Water District in Ventura County, California, which gets its water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California which gets its water from the Colorado River. Two days ago, Mr. Selleck reached an “agreement” with the District in which he agreed to pay a “settlement” of $21,655.85 that resolved the matter. This LA Times story says that Mr. Selleck is “pleased” with the outcome of the investigation. Yes, ironically, the $21,655.85 “settlement” was the amount of money the District used to hire a PI (private investigator) to investigate Magnum PI, which just goes to show you that what comes around goes around on the Colorado River.

OK, next up is SKELETONS in the Colorado River! Earlier this summer, a diver in skeletons-on-lawn-chairs-b2e2b1e4e192f548Lake Havasu of the Colorado River discovered a couple skeletons sitting in lawn chairs which caused quite a stir with local law enforcement. The internet ran the stories all over hootenany which caused quite a stir on facebook and twitter.

A few days later, it was discovered that the skeletons were a prank and weren’t real human skeletons. A couple of Phoenix pranksters were behind the issue, saying they were hoping to create a “humorous landmark.” Law enforcement personnel have now dropped the matter and say they have no plans to press charges. Read about the story in Arizona Central here.

Next up is Marijuana! As many of you know the voters in the state of Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2014, which has resulted in numerous local zoning grow-room-at-mindful001and land use squabbles as well as water rights questions across the state. This week, the City of Glenwood Springs is considering whether to allow a marijuana grow and retail shop to be located in the Colorado River Industrial Park.

Local officials insist that “no discernible odor shall be projected beyond the exterior walls of the licensed premises” which has been a problem at other grows in the state (see this story in the Glenwood Independent here). At the very same time that marijuana grows are proliferating across Colorado, the federal government’s U.S. Bureau of Reclamation has made it clear that they won’t allow the use of water administered by the Bureau to be used to grow marijuana (read this story in the Denver Post here). So, perhaps you can have a grow in the Colorado River Industrial Park but can’t use Colorado River water to grow it?

Finally, everybody knows that standup paddle boarding is all the rage across the Colorado River, and the next big rage is dogs on paddle boards. Facebook is all a twitter with paddle-boarding dogs. Here’s a sampling to get you howling. Enjoy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

dog-paddleboard

Screenshot (348)Next week we will be back with normal and important news and action items for you to help Save The Colorado River! Have a great weekend and thank you for your support!

Like Save The Colorado on Facebook here

Follow Save The Colorado on Twitter here

Donate to Save The Colorado here

 

 

Is The Colorado Water Plan Ethically Bankrupt?

Is The Colorado Water Plan Ethically Bankrupt?

“Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.” – Potter Stewart

On Tuesday July 7th, the second draft of the Colorado Water Plan was released to the public. The plan – now 2 years in the making and with thousands of public comments – calls for an “all of the above” water strategy that includes further draining and destroying the rivers across the state of Colorado. This plan may be rooted in the legal system of coriver5432water rights in the Southwest U.S.,  although we think it absolutely won’t pass the test of the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act when they try to permit these massive new dam and diversion projects.

But another question of paramount importance — does the Colorado Water Plan pass any kind of ethical smell test?

The plan further entrenches the parochial state-by-state interest in the Southwest U.S. by repeatedly talking about Colorado’s “entitlements” to water. Whereas states usually say they are “allotted” water through interstate and federal agreements, Colorado escalates the discussion by using rhetoric about “entitlements” and how they will use their entitled water.

Federal laws exist (often called “compacts”) which requires Colorado to let legal minimum streamflows leave the state and flow into Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico. But the Colorado Water Plan makes it dead clear that the Colorado state government intends to stop every drop of water at the state line that it isn’t legally required to send over the state boundary.

For example, on page 311 the plan hammers this point home, saying that the State government will: “Protect Colorado’s ability to fully develop compact entitlements, and continue to support agreements that strengthen Colorado’s position in interstate negotiations while ensuring the long-term viability of Colorado’s interstate compacts and relationships.” (underline added)

By saying that Colorado will “fully develop compact entitlements,” the State is saying that they will make sure that not one drop of water leaves the state that is not legally required to flow over the state boundary. This would mean huge and dramatic new diversions of water out of Colorado’s rivers, and it would mean dramatic reductions in flows in the:

  • North Platte in Wyoming
  • South Platte River in Nebraska
  • Arkansas River in Kansas
  • Rio Grande River in New Mexico
  • San Juan River in Utah
  • Colorado River in Utah
  • and Yampa River in Utah.

Because climate change has and will continue to dramatically alter streamflows in Colorado’s headwaters rivers (mostly downward), it is not clear how much water Colorado is still “entitled” to divert. However as just one example, cities along the Front Range of Colorado believe they can still divert up to 1 million acre feet of water out of just the Colorado River as this news story in the July 10th Glenwood Springs Independent makes clear:

  • “The cities point to state estimates that there is up to 1 million acre-feet of Colorado River water to still be developed in the state, with 600,000 more acre-feet each year that could be developed in the Colorado River basin upstream of the proposed Glenwood whitewater parks, and 150,000 acre-feet below them.”

It’s also clear that every “upper basin” state in the Colorado River basin is trying to do the exact same thing – Wyoming and Utah are also planning new diversions to get their “entitled water” which would further deplete the Colorado, Green, and Yampa Rivers. But even if we assume that the water exists and that the law allows Colorado to divert it before it crosses the state line, does Colorado have an ethical right to divert it and further drain and destroy all of these rivers?

Either the laws are broken or the plans are ethically bankrupt, because if we follow the laws and the plans, the rivers of the West will be further destroyed. What is the lesson that we’d leave the next generation? “We didn’t break the law.”

Colorado may think it has a right to further drain all of these rivers, but is it right to do it?

Gary Wockner, PhD, is Executive Director of the Save The Colorado River Campaign.

 

 

PRESS RELEASE: 2nd Draft Colorado Water Plan Fails To Protect Colorado River

For Immediate Release
July 7, 2015
Save The Colorado
Contact: Gary Wockner, Executive Director, 970-218-8310

Second Draft Colorado Water Plan Fails To Protect Health of Colorado River Ecosystem

“At the very same time that a major alarm clock is going off at Lake Mead, every Upper Basin state including Colorado is hitting the snooze button. Everyone thinks they’re entitled, but they ain’t no water left to be entitled to.” – Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado

 

Colorado River, USA – Today the State of Colorado, Water Conservation Board, released the second draft of the Colorado Water Plan. In the works for two years and set to be finalized at the end of 2015, the 479-page second draft (link here) fails to mead12321protect the health of the Colorado River ecosystem. In its beginning pages, the draft says it “will defend Colorado’s compact entitlements” (page 6).  The beginning of Chapter 8 gets right to the bone of the issue when it says the Plan’s goal is to: “Protect Colorado’s ability to fully develop compact entitlements, and continue to support agreements that strengthen Colorado’s position in interstate negotiations while ensuring the long-term viability of Colorado’s interstate compacts and relationships.” (page 311, bold added)

“This draft plan protects Colorado’s water but does not protect the health of the Colorado River ecosystem,” said Gary Wockner, Executive Director of the Save The Colorado River Campaign. “Colorado is looking out for itself and not for the health of the ecosystem that supports the entire Southwest United States.”

Colorado is not in a unique position in this parochial stance.  Recently, both Utah and Wyoming have engaged in planning processes in which they too have said they aim to get all of their entitled water out of the Colorado River ecosystem (see link here, with sub-links to articles by Gary Wockner). Further, like Colorado, both states have multiple projects planned to further drain the Colorado River and its tributaries. All of this is happening as Lake Mead farther downstream continually hits its lowest levels in history, likely on the verge of an official shortage declaration by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in the next few years.

“At the very same time that a major alarm clock is going off at Lake Mead, every Upper Basin state including Colorado is hitting the snooze button,” said Wockner.  “Everyone thinks they’re entitled, but they ain’t no water left to be entitled to.”

“The Law of the River is broken,” continued Wockner. “The Colorado River is drained dry at the end, is on life support in the middle, and is further threatened by the Upper Basin states at the top. The states are giving lip service by saying ‘we’re all in this together’ at the same time they are planning for the complete demise of the Colorado River ecosystem. Everybody is speaking for their state interest, but nobody is speaking for the river — nobody.”
–end–

Colorado River Update! Lake Mead hits “trigger point” for shortages

Hello Friends of the Colorado River,

The water supply situation continues to deteriorate across the Colorado River basin as Lake Mead — the largest reservoir in the U.S. — hit its lowest point in history this week. Further, the lake is expected to decline even more as the summer plays out. The mead12321lake hit the “trigger point” of 1,075 feet above sea level, which may cause the first official “shortage” to be declared on the Colorado River in the next year or two.

This shortage would force cutbacks in water deliveries to Arizona, Las Vegas, and Southern California. In this EcoWatch article, I call this decline the “condor in the coal mine,” and continue, “The health of the river and water supplies across the Southwest U.S. are continuing to decline. People are literally draining everything.” What can be done to fix this mess?  As I’ve written elsewhere, we need to 1) stop all new proposed diversions out of the river so it doesn’t get worse, 2) dramatically ramp up conservation efforts, like those noted in this report titled “The Hardest Working River,” and 3) the federal government and the states need to negotiate a new Colorado River Compact that doesn’t drain the river.

OK, now you want some more bad news?! Just a few days ago the State of Wyoming announced that they are proposing to take a massive new amount of water out of the gasdrillingColorado River system to be used for “energy development” and other needs they haven’t yet identified.

The proposal would be the largest new diversion of water out of the Green River in decades — ~150,000 acre feet — which would no longer flow into the Colorado River, and would surely cause trouble downstream as the levels in Lake Mead continue to drop. Further, of course the diversion would continue the draining and ecological destruction of the health of the river system from Wyoming all the way to the Gulf of California. As I’ve noted before in other articles, all of the upstream states — Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico — are proposing to further drain the system and imperil the health of the river.

OK, how about a little good news!  In addition, to helping us advocate to protect and restore this imperiled river system, you can also get out there on the rivers and enjoy HSM7them while we still can! The rains in May and June in Colorado have caused a lot of runoff in the rivers and streams in Colorado, and in the Colorado River, and so the rafting is great!

There was good rain in Wyoming too, and so the Green River through Dinosaur National Monument is also flowing well. In conjunction with our great friends at O.A.R.S. Adventure Travel, Save The Colorado is offering a Green River raft trip in late August. The Green is still a beautiful river — a float through Dinosaur National Monument will renew your vigor to fight the dam builders in the future. The raft trip is August 23 – 26, all details are posted here. I’ll be there, as will renown California river advocate, Mark Dubois, to enjoy the sun and rapids and talk about the great river systems of the Western U.S.

LET’S GO RAFTING! Save The Colorado trip: August 23 – 26

Hi Friends — Let’s Go Rafting!

Our great friends at O.A.R.S. Adventure Travel are offering an exclusive, non-profit-rate raft trip for Save The Colorado friends and supporters on the Green River in Utah! This 4-day Gates_of_Lodoretrip is a fundraiser for Save The Colorado and will support our work to protect and restore the Colorado River and its tributaries like the Green River.

Dates: August 23rd – 26th, 2015
Cost: $849

The trip will feature the famous “Gates of Lodore” landscape, the weather will be very warm, and your companions on the trip will be great friends of the river! The Gates of Lodore, deep within Dinosaur National Monument, is recognized as one of North America’s most beautiful river canyons. An archeological treasure chest, Lodore also offers a wealth of beauty, history, and recreation. Rippling red and brown sandstone is contrasted against the deep green trees and grasses that grow along the river and up the canyon walls, feeding local bighorn sheep. Ancient fossils co-exist with prehistoric American petroglyphs in these canyons. Then there is the river itself—first navigated by Major HSM7John Wesley Powell on his famous descent that lead him through the Grand Canyon, the Green has long been a legendary whitewater run. Big-wave rapids are exciting for experienced boaters, but not so formidable as to discourage first time rafters.

Join special guest Mark Dubois (founder of Friends of the River) on the trip. In 1979, Mark Dubois captured national headlines when he chained himself to the bedrock of the Stanislaus River Canyon as a new reservoir filled. While his action forced only a temporary reprieve for the Stanislaus, the growing movement to protect rivers brought a halt to major dam building in the United States.

Gary Wockner (founder of Save the Colorado) will also be speaking on the trip which will directly benefit the Colorado River and its tributaries. By joining this trip you are joining the force to support the non-profit organization, Save the Colorado, and one of nature’s greatest rivers.

This trip has a limited number of seats available, so contact us soon! The trip is fully supported by OARS — great food, excellent guides, and awesome fun!

Click here to see the full details of the trip including itinerary, gear, and travel arrangements: http://www.savethecolorado.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Save-the-Colorado-Green_River_Gates_of_Lodore_Itinerary-OARS.pdf

Please contact Emily Kay, below, to book the trip!
Emily Kay, Reservations Specialist
The O.A.R.S. Family of Companies | PO Box 67, Angels Camp, CA 95222
Phone: 209-753-4790, Email: EmilyK@oars.com

duboisThank you for your support!

 

 

Colorado River Update: Take Action To Protect The Grand Canyon!

Hello Friends of the Colorado River!

A quick action alert for you to jump on: The U.S. Forest Service is considering public comment on a massive new housing development on the South Rim of the Grand Screenshot (291)Canyon. This development proposes to quadruple the number of houses, environmental impacts, and congestion at the South Rim. The development is opposed by many major environmental groups — even the U.S. Park Service has called the development a “threat to the Grand Canyon” (see story in Los Angeles Times here).

Our friends at the Sierra Club have created this handy action alert that you can click through to send an email to the U.S. Forest Service. As the Sierra Club states, “The development will transform the area into a bustling resort complex that will strip the land of its quickly depleting resources, and impact the quality of life for local residents and surrounding wildlife. AND, we still don’t know where the water will come from!” Please click through here to send an email to the Forest Service protesting this development.

And now for all the rest of the Colorado River news! First, the level of Lake Mead continues to drop, which is causing increasing calls for action throughout the Southwest mulroy-123U.S. Into that mix, the news service, ProPublica, has launched a major, provocative, multi-part series of stories about the Colorado River, Lake Mead, and the problems facing water management in the Southwest U.S.

The first story was titled, “Holy Crop,” and focused on unsustainable cotton farming in Arizona. The second story just posted today is titled, “The Water Witch,” and focuses on former Las Vegas Water Czar Pat Mulroy. Question: Is it part Pat Mulroy’s fault that Lake Mead continues to plummet?

Second, the water wars in Colorado continue to heat up as Colorado moves forward with its “Water Plan” and as two water agencies, Denver Water and Northern Water, move forward with their proposals to build two new dam/reservoir/diversion projects that would drain even more wgfp-cleanwateractwater out of the Colorado River. Both of the projects are expected to be hotly contested — we are fighting to stop Denver’s “Moffat Project” and Northern Water’s “Windy Gap Firming Project” through the permitting process. It makes no sense to be planning to even further drain the Colorado River thus imperiling the health of the river as well as water supplies for Arizona, Nevada, and California. Colorado needs to stop the madness. Read our latest commentary about the Colorado Water Plan here (“Hijacking the Colorado Water Plan),” and about one of the proposed dam/reservoir projects here (“Will Colorado Violate The Clean Water Act?)

Finally, amidst the amazing drought in California, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California just committed to spend $350 million to remove lawns throughout their service area. Will this drought signal the final, inevitable, and necessary “Death of the Lawn” in the Southwest U.S.? See the story in the LA Times here.That’s real money, and maybe hope for saner water policies throughout the region.

Thank you for your support and stay tuned!

 

 

Will Colorado Violate The Clean Water Act?

For Immediate Release
May 28, 2015
Contact: Gary Wockner, Save The Colorado, 970-218-8310

Colorado’s Draft Permit For The Windy Gap Firming Project Violates The Clean Water Act And Further Drains West Slope’s Colorado River

Denver — Today, Save The Colorado sent extensive comments to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment informing them that their “draft 401 water quality certification” for the Windy Gap Firming Project (Project) fails to comply with the Clean Water Act (the comment letter is posted here). The comment letter was sent in response to the “public comment period” for the State’s water quality certification process for the project.

Save The Colorado found extensive problems with the draft permit from the State, including:

1. The draft permit almost completely relies on the fatally flawed Final Environmental Impact Statement from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for the Project.

2. The draft permit did almost no independent scientific analyses of the water quality problems that would be caused by the the Project as required by the Clean Water Act.

3. The draft permit fails to address the water quality problems the Project would cause in Grand Lake, to Colorado River temperatures, to nutrient pollution in the Colorado River, and to streamflow quantity in the Colorado River.

In fact, the State’s draft permit squarely says, “A separate alternatives analysis was not performed for the purpose of the 401 Certification, instead a summary of the alternatives selection and screening done for the FEIS is provided here.” (Tech report, page 37)

“This draft permit fails to comply with the U.S. Clean Water Act,” said Gary Wockner, E.D. of Save The Colorado. “We call upon the State of Colorado to either complete its mandated analyses independently, or suspend the certification process until the numerous shortcomings in the Final EIS identified by Save the Colorado and others are addressed.”

Unfortunately, the State’s draft permit falls directly in line with Governor Hickenlooper’s 2013 Executive order to create the Colorado Water Plan which also requires State departments to “streamline the state role in the approval and and regulatory processes regarding state water projects.” (page 3)

The Windy Gap Firming Project proposes to further drain the Colorado River in Grand County, Colorado, and pipe the West Slope water under the continental divide to slake the growth of small cities along the northern Front Range. Save The Colorado has previously commented on the extensive damage the Project would cause (see letter here) and argues that better alternatives focusing on water conservation and water-sharing agreements farmers are cheaper, faster, and easier to implement.

“The Windy Gap Firming Project would further drain and destroy the Colorado River and violate federal law,” said Gary Wockner. “The Colorado River is already on the brink of destruction, from the top to the bottom — it needs to be protected and restored, not further drained.”

–end–