A private developer, Aaron Million, has proposed to transport up to 250,000 acre-feet of water per year from the Green River and Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming to the Front Range of Colorado. The project would pump the water nearly 600 miles through a pipeline, requiring at least three new reservoirs and 16 pumping stations. TU opposes the current proposal, which would impose significant environmental damage on the fabled Green River fishery as well as on critical wildlife habitat. We believe there are better options than this outrageously expensive and environmentally destructive boondoggle.
The withdrawal of such a large amount of water would threaten the world-class trout fisheries in the Green River above and below Flaming Gorge Reservoir, as well as within the reservoir itself. It would also likely reduce the level of the reservoir, adversely affecting boating, angling and other recreation opportunities, which draw more than 2.5 million visitors to the Flaming Gorge area each year. Negative impacts to existing hydropower generation, downstream endangered fish, and native vegetation are also expected. Moreover, the pipeline itself would cut across and degrade sensitive wildlife habitat and could spread invasive aquatic species - such as zebra mussels and burbot - to Wyoming and Colorado waters.
Local communities in Southwest Wyoming and Northeast Utah stand to lose not only a treasured natural resource, but also the valuable economic basis the tourism industry provides. Over the long haul, Colorado would not fare any better – the pipeline would use most or all of Colorado's last remaining allocation of water under the Colorado River Compact, effectively preventing other water development projects on both sides of the Continental Divide.
TU believes there are other cost-effective and commonsense water solutions for Colorado, such as:
The Army Corps of Engineers currently is conducting a review of the environmental impacts of the pipeline. TU submitted scoping comments on this effort to the Corps. TU is also actively working with other governmental, business, community, and non-profit groups to stop the pipeline through public education, media outreach, in-depth analysis of project impacts, and further participation in environmental analysis and permitting.