Wyoming cities oppose water pipeline to Denver

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

GREEN RIVER, Wyo. ” The two largest cities in Sweetwater County are organizing to fight two proposed projects that would divert water from the Green River Basin to the Colorado Front Range.

They’ve agreed to form a coalition and possibly hire a public relations firm to challenge the proposals, which include construction of a 560-mile pipeline from Flaming Gorge Reservoir to Denver.

The projects are a “big elephant facing us,” Green River Mayor Hank Castillon said in giving his support to the new coalition Wednesday.

“This is a complex and unique struggle we’re in,” he said.

Rock Springs Mayor Tim Kaumo lent his support.

“I don’t think we can wait any longer,” Kaumo said. “We need to stick together and see just how successful we can be.”

Million Conservation Resource Group has filed for a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the approximately $3 billion project. The pipeline would send about 250,000 acre-feet of water to the Front Range each year, according to project plans.

An acre-foot is an amount that would cover an acre of ground with a foot of water.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun an environmental study of the pipeline proposal. The study is expected to take at least three years to complete.

Colorado developer Aaron Million said at the meeting that drawing water from Flaming Gorge ” which can hold up to 3.8 million acre-feet ” and the Green River would affect few irrigators and other water users.

Also in the works is a less-publicized proposal to divert water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir to the Parker Water and Sanitation District near Denver.

Bill Sniffin, head of the public relations and marketing firm Wyoming Inc., made a pitch to lead a marketing effort against the pipeline projects. The Lander-based company provides marketing, research and public relations services.

Sniffin estimated it would cost between $75,000 and $150,000 for his firm to carry the coalition’s fight against the pipeline projects for the first year.