Wyoming residents still oppose water pipeline to Colorado | AspenTimes.com

Wyoming residents still oppose water pipeline to Colorado

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. – A second public meeting in southwest Wyoming drew more comments against a proposal to divert water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir and pipe it to Colorado.

Sweetwater County residents and local municipal officials emphasized once again to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that they believe the privately funded water diversion project will have no real benefits for southwest Wyoming.

About 80 area residents attended the second, added Army Corps scoping meeting on the proposed pipeline project Tuesday night in Rock Springs. That was less than the 300 who showed up for the first meeting in April in the county, but their opposition was just as strident.

Residents said diverting much-needed water from the popular reservoir located south of the city of Green River could hurt local industry, could curtail future growth in Green River and neighboring Rock Springs, and could threaten a world-class fishery.

“I see the benefits of this for eastern Wyoming and northern Colorado, but I have a real difficult time seeing the benefits for western Wyoming,” Rock Springs resident Dennis Doncastor said. “We’re giving up our water, but what’s coming back in return?”

Colorado businessman Aaron Million wants to build a $3 billion, 560-mile pipeline to move Wyoming’s and Colorado’s unallocated water from the Green River Basin to eastern Wyoming and the Front Range of Colorado.

The Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Sweetwater County is a popular recreation and fishing area operated by the Ashley National Forest.

Million’s proposed pipeline would draw water from intake points on the Flaming Gorge Reservoir and upstream on the Green River just below the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge and Fontenelle Dam, according to plans.

The Million Conservation Resource Group’s Regional Watershed Supply Project would move about 250,000 acre-feet of water from the Green River Basin each year to Colorado’s bustling Front Range near Denver and to southeast Wyoming.

About 225,000 acre-feet of water would be transported to the Front Range, with the remaining 25,000 acre-feet going to water users in southeast Wyoming’s Platte River Basin.

Million tried to assuage fears about the project. He said the project was supported by recent Bureau of Reclamation studies showing that taking 250,000 acre feet from the Green River Basin would not hurt recreation, endangered fish species or other downstream users.

“If the project does not meet the modeling … and there are adverse impacts, then we’ll not move forward with the project,” Million added. “I’ll be the first to put a fork in it.”

He said the water would be obtained from the Green River Basin as part of the unused portion of water allocated to the states of Wyoming and Colorado under the Colorado and Upper Colorado River Basin compacts.

The project would move Colorado’s allocated water to Colorado and Wyoming’s allocated water to eastern Wyoming, he said.

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