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.”


Take Action To Protect The Colorado River!

Hello Friends of the Colorado River!

I need you to take action today — click here to send an email to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is on the verge of issuing a “Record of Decision” on two dam/diversion projects that would further drain and destroy the Colorado River to supply even more water to the sprawling Denver area metropolis, most of which will be used to keep lawns green in the semi-desert environment. However, the Corps has so Screenshot (381)far completely failed to analyze the role climate change will play if these projects move forward.

The two dam/diversion projects — Moffat Collection System Project and Windy Gap Firming Project in Grand County, Colorado — would take an average of 50,000 acre feet of new water out of the Colorado River, and in wet years they could take up to 100,000 acre feet of water out of the river — over 32 BILLION GALLONS. At the very same time, the Colorado River is already stretched beyond the breaking point downstream and on the verge of having “shortage” declarations in Arizona, Nevada, and Southern California. Further, climate change models are putting a “bullseye” on the Colorado River ecosystem and predicting that flows in the river could decrease 9%-30% in a hotter, drier climate-changed world. NASA says climate change could cause a MEGADROUGHT in the Southwest U.S.

Yet, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering new dam/diversion projects without even analyzing climate change!  Click here to send an email to the Army Corps.

The Environmental Impact Statement documents for these two projects must analyze climate change in order to comply with federal law. We sent the Army Corps two long technical documents about how climate change needs to be analyzed, and now its your turn to speak directly to the Army Corps. Don’t let the Army Corps issue a Record of Decision on these two projects until they analyze the role the new dams/diversions will play in escalating “shortages” and a “call on the river” as climate change further threatens the river and water supply system in the Southwest U.S.

Click Here To Send An Email To The Army Corps

Thank you for taking action!

Top 5 Problems With Draft 2 of the Colorado Water Plan

From: Save The Colorado
To: Colorado Water Conservation Board
Re: Comments on Draft 2 of Colorado Water Plan
Date: September 15, 2015

1. We disagree with the premise put forward in Governor Hickenlooper’s Executive Order, and carried forward in Draft 2 of the Plan, that agriculture must be protected. If farmers want to sell their water, that’s their business. Further, transferring water from farms to cities – whether by traditional or alternative methods – is always a less environmentally damaging and more practicable alternative as opposed to further draining and destroying rivers. The Colorado Water Plan should support transferring water from farms to cities in order to meet new demand.

2. Draft 2 of the Colorado Water Plan focuses too much on meeting new demand by building more dams and diversions on Colorado’s rivers. The Plan should solely focus on water supply alternatives including conservation, efficiency, reuse, recycling, growth management, and transferring water from farms.

3. Draft 2 of the Colorado Water Plan focuses too much on “streamlining” permitting processes. These permitting process were enacted by our forefathers and foremothers to make sure due public process and environmental protection were guaranteed as a public right and responsibility when large-scale environmental damage is proposed by new dams/diversions. The Plan should protect and enhance permitting so as to better protect and restore rivers.

4. Draft 2 of the Colorado Water Plan does not focus enough on protecting and restoring Colorado’s rivers (including dam removal), nor enough on providing funding for stream and habitat protection.

5. Draft 2 of the Colorado Water Plan proposes to “fully develop compact entitlements” to Colorado’s water supplies by making sure not one drop leaves the state in a river that is not required by federal law. This policy proposal is anti-environmental, unethical, and provincial. Rivers across state boundaries also need water to be healthy – the Colorado Water Plan should protect rivers in Colorado and across state lines.

Thank you for considering our comments,

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

The mission of Save The Colorado is to protect and restore the Colorado River and its tributaries from the source to the sea. Save The Colorado focuses on fighting irresponsible water projects, supporting alternatives to dams and diversions, fighting and adapting to climate change, supporting river and fish species restoration, and removing deadbeat dams. Save The Colorado has thousands of supporters throughout the Southwest U.S. from Denver to Los Angeles and beyond.

Colorado River Update! Will GODZILLA El Nino Save Us?

Hello Friends of the Colorado River!

Will GODZILLA save us? Seriously — that’s the talk of water managers in the Colorado River basin these days. A few months ago, water managers across the basin Screenshot (371)breathed a huge sigh of relief when “Miracle Rains” happened in Colorado and Wyoming which put off the first ever water “shortage” declaration on the Colorado River until 2017.

Two weeks ago the Associated Press gave me a call and ask me my thoughts about this change and here’s what I said:  ”The water supply situation is getting worse, but not as fast as it was prior to the miracle rains in May and June in Colorado. There’s no sustainable path forward, unless water supply managers make consequential change or unless the climate gets wetter” (see New York Times story here).

And now, believe it or not, water supply managers seem to be banking on the climate getting wetter, at least in the short term, in the form of “GODZILLA El Nino” this coming winter (see this Los Angeles Times article here). Past El Ninos have brought record 927691_1_0810-ANIMAS-RIVER-sized.jpg_standardrainfall to Southern California and the far southwest U.S., and that is a good thing. But, Save The Colorado believes water managers should be planning on protecting the Colorado River and its water supplies in case Miracles and Godzilla don’t come to save us.

As we’ve noted time and time again — and as I repeat in my latest High Country News column here — water managers in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico are proposing more and more dams and diversions which will drain the Colorado River even farther and imperil the health of the river and water supplies for the Southwest U.S. My column is titled, “While the Animas River spill is eye-catching, Western rivers face an even bigger threat” and was syndicated throughout the West by the Writers on the Range news service.

I went further on the record last night in this Colorado Channel 9 TV News story here where I chastised the State of Colorado — from which over 50% of the Colorado River’s flow originates in its mountains — for planning for even more dams and diversions in its Screenshot (370)Colorado Water Plan process. Over the past few months we have asked you all several times to weigh in on the Colorado Water Plan and send emails asking for more conservation and no new dams.

Well, in the second draft of the Plan, they are asking for both — an “all of the above” water policy — that both conserves water and further destroys our rivers. That’s why Save The Colorado believes we need more immediate and proactive measures to protect the river and water supplies. We support:

  1. Stopping all new dams and diversions of water out of the Colorado River and its tributaries.
  2. Dramatically ramping up water conservation programs in cities across the Southwest U.S. that depend on Colorado River water.
  3. Aggressively rethinking and changing the use of agricultural water so that low-value crops and wasteful irrigation methods are phased out.
  4. Storing water in underground aquifers rather than in above-ground reservoirs where the water evaporates and seeps away costing the Colorado River over 1/10th of its entire flow.
  5. Changing the Colorado River Compact so that it’s based on real science about how much water flows in the river, and on likely decreases in water due to climate change.
  6. Restoring a small, permanent flow of water back to the Colorado River Delta where the river no longer meets the sea. 

All of this is possible! And all of this can happen if we all stick together and move forward to make it happen. Last week Save The Colorado went on an amazing raft trip on the Green River through Gates of Lodore and Echo Canyon. Talking with friends and colleagues we envision a future for the Colorado River that protects this amazing resource for future generations of people and all of the non-human critters that depend on it for survival in a world that is increasingly uncertain due to climate change.

The time to plan and act is now! Water managers may be depending on Miracles and Godzilla, but we are not.

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



Colorado River Water Storage at Lowest Point in History!

Hello Friends of the Colorado River!

Bad News: Despite the heavy rains in Colorado this May and June, it barely made a dent in the declining health of the Colorado River and its water storage at Lakes Powell 201507MeadPowellPlotand Mead. In fact, the lake levels continue to fall and are now at the lowest combined storage level in history. See the graph to the left provided to us by John Fleck at the University of New Mexico.

Save The Colorado believes that not enough is being done to address the continual problem and its ramifications for the health of the Colorado River ecosystem and the nonhuman critters that depend on it for survival. Further, not only are the elected officials and water agencies not doing enough to address the problem, they are — BELIEVE IT OR NOT — proposing even more new diversions of water out of the river and its tributaries in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Utah.

Save The Colorado is fighting to stop these new diversions including the Moffat and Windy Gap Projects in Colorado, the Lake Powell Pipeline in Utah, the Gila River Diversion in New Mexico, the Fontenelle Dam enlargement in Wyoming, and others.  We need YOUR help to do that!  Please consider a donation to Save The Colorado by clicking through to this link here:

GOOD NEWS — LET’S GO RAFTING!  Summer is almost over and it’s still time for more fun!  Please join us on our Green River rafting trip August 23-26. We’ll be paddling through the Mark-Duboisfamous Gates of Lodore and Dinosaur National Monument with several esteemed colleagues, key among them is River Hero Mark Dubois.  Mark is a co-founder of Friends of the River and the International Rivers Network, and has long been a leader in river conservation.

In 1979, he 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. Mark is a pivotal leader in the history of the American river protection movement — he is very generously spending a few days with us (and you!) on this wonderful trip on the Green River.

Click through here to our website to learn all the details of this great trip.

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

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


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! :-)

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