Who Says 1/3 of a Colorado River is Just as Good as a Full One? You Might Be Surprised….

by Mark McGlothlin on February 19, 2012

in Water Worth Saving

Don’t know about you, but I don’t like someone looking over my shoulder while I’m working. It’s a damned annoyance.

Somehow I get the feeling folks working in Colorado’s Northern Water Conservancy District’s offices, as well as advisors in Gov. John Hickenlooper’s office aren’t enjoying having the EPA promise to ‘look over their shoulders’ as a more detailed look-see is taken of the proposed Windy Gap Diversion project.

From Friday’s Denver Post in Scott Finley’s EPA Wants Further Review of Water-Diversion Project to Protect Colorado River

Federal authorities say a long-planned project to divert more western Colorado water to growing Front Range suburbs may cause “significant degradation” of already deteriorating ecosystems along the upper Colorado River.

An Environmental Protection Agency review of data used in planning the project found mathematical errors and a downplaying of “critical adverse impacts” from the $270 million project, which Colorado leaders consider crucial for millions of residents.

For those wanting to peer into the virtual mind of the EPA on this issue, read summaries of the EPA’s concerns as reflected in letters 6 February 12 to the US Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation for yourself.

Hickenlooper, one of Colorado’s favorite brewmeisters and Governor, apparently continues to contend that the plan in place “comprehensively addresses impacts to to Colorado’s fish and wildlife”.

His Colorado Department of Natural Resources apparently continues to argue that even as the newly planned diversion will reduce Colorado River flows to 33% of normal – yes, you read that right, 67% of the flows will be diverted – significant detrimental impacts won’t occur.

Well, simply put, we along with a growing chorus of others call bullshit on this one.

[On a side note, Hickenlooper’s persistent stance on this issue is vivid proof that political party affiliation is meaningless when it comes to standing up for environmental issues these days. Yep, he’s a democrat, one willing to oversee draining life-sustaining flows from a river to water lawns on the front range. Ed’s right, the blue-shirt versus red-shirt battle is a ruse and a critical distraction from issues at hand…]

There’s an avalanche of data out there that shows the Colorado has been teetering on the edge of disaster for some time. Employing fuzzy math and downplaying (or outright ignoring) adverse impacts might keep bureaucrats busy and sheeple distracted, though they’re not fooling folks like the good guys and gals at Defend the Colorado, TU and the NWF.

Some shall we say ‘irregularities’ in the prior approval process are also coming to light (from the article linked above)….

State wildlife commissioners in June signed off on both new diversions. However, some conservationists contend commissioners weren’t fully informed of what scientists are finding about how diversions are hurting river life.

The commissioners received data from the state’s 2011 report on loss of aquatic species but did not receive the completed report and its conclusions, said Ken Kehmeier, senior aquatic biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Northern Water’s manager Eric Wilkinson’s quote probably (unwittingly) reveals his team’s perspective on the entire issue…

Northern Water manager Eric Wilkinson said he and his team “are going to stand on our final environmental-impact statement. That’s why we paid $10 million for it.”

Yep, they’ve paid for it. The question is this – is the health and future of the Colorado River for sale to water lawns on the front range?

We sure as hell hope not.