Monday, August 22, 2011

Mr. Million’s Time Warp... dreams of diverting the mighty Green River's water

Dear Durango Telegraph Editor,
Last week Missy’s opinion started with recalling a wonderful river trip, one I could relate to having rafted that section during the 2010 peak water run off. Incredible water, incredible geology, incredible experience. But, as we know, the river is so much more than a good time. It’s our life blood and it has a new threat, Mr. Million’s water pipeline scheme, as Missy detailed in her opinion piece.

Seems like I barely finished it, when an email arrived from the High Country Citizens’ Alliance discussing Mr. Millions scheme and asking for support in convincing the Colorado Water Conservation Board not to spend $150,000 on studying the feasibility of a sure fire boondoggle.

To recap: a speculator, one Mr. Million, is proposing a 578 mile, er 560 mile, perhaps 520 mile long “Flaming Gorge Pipeline.” Like so much else about the scheme the exact numbers are pretty dodgy. The pipeline would siphon off a quarter of the Green River’s flow and pump it from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir to the thirsty Eastern Slope. As an afterthought apparently a hydro-electric project has now been added to the bill of goods. Seems that would make approval easier.

Yes the Eastern Slope is getting thirsty, but is this a solution? Consider the unassailable fact that the Green River water resource is already being squeezed. Mind you, the Green River is receiving less rain water, on the order of 20% less, than the figure upon which water allocation agreements were originally based.

Mr. Million suggests it’s reasonable to base his arguments on the ancient’s estimated flow of 1.18 million acre feet annually, although for the past couple decades the river has been averaging around 0.97 million acre feet.

Add to that a wide range of climatological studies, all indicating that we must prepare for less rain and river water these next decades. And it seems incomprehensible that someone could in good faith suggest such a scheme.

But, water isn’t Mr Million’s worst problem, fatal though it may be. Million claims a three billion dollar price tag and plenty of backers, wink, wink. Who are the backers? Well Million has also been pretty dodgy about those specifics. Of course, a review of such mega-projects makes clear that these early estimates are little more than liars poker and we should realistically expect the cost to spiral once the legal battles, and digging, and unexpected surprises of trenching and building over the Great Divide start multiplying.

And none of this even touches on the massive ecological damages and upheaval such a venture would trigger. It seems like Mr. Million is in a time warp and refuses to look at the realities of the day. The sad fact of our brave new world is that the Eastern Slope simply needs to learn to make due with what they have. As Missy pointed out: “(time to) usher in a new era of innovation and cooperation. Approaches like water-leasing, water reuse, conservation and cooperation...”

Why waste 150,000 tax payer dollars to “study” these glaringly fatal flaws in this smooth talkers proposal? Well, that’s exactly the question before the Colorado Water Conservation Board on September 13, 2011.

If their decision on this matter concerns you, please visit to sign their petition for presenting to the CWCB at their next meeting
{must be signed before September 12th !}.

Also, at there’s a post listing articles and other information supporting claims made in this letter.


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