Letter: Five reasons to argue about the data in Moffat-Gross Final EIS
July 16, 2014
To the Editor:
What, me worry? Yes.
Commissioner James Newberry chants his mantra ("Why argue about the data?") while promoting multi-million dollar back-room deals that give shady Denver Water politicians control over West Slope water. That mantra may bring inner peace to folks who trust our county leadership to diligently count every drop of water along with every penny, but to this river scientist living and working in Grand County for more than 20 years, "the data" should drive critical thinking and legally defensible decisions. Why?
1. Denver Water cherry picks their data to paint a rosy scenario for Grand County — fictional numbers showing plenty of water for everyone. Plenty of water for Denver to take 90 percent of West Slope flows under junior water rights, plenty for cozy agreements and award banquets, and of course, plenty for fish. But their numbers don't add up, they don't agree with USGS gauge data used by the State Engineer's Office to manage fair water allocation, and they ignore senior West Slope irrigation rights.
2. EPA is required by law to argue about the data, it's their job, and their comments confirm the Final EIS is so bad, so misleading, it offers no technical base to build mitigations. Political agreements therefore have nothing to stand on. It's all fiction.
3. Local water managers including our ranching neighbors rely on data to make daily decisions about fair water allocation and quality. It's about livelihood, traditions, and children's health, and it depends upon good data.
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4. Grand County's Mitigation and Enhancement Coordination Plan ignores the data ("no blame game"), then offers holes big enough to drive a fracking water truck through. We care about the data because it's not reasonable to require extra flows to mitigate high water temperatures and then exclude hot days, nor is it reasonable to pretend Grand County will receive $1 million dollars after 20 years of dead trout while giving Denver a loophole based upon their exclusive control of, you guessed it, data.
5. The data matters because Grand County has spent more than $6 million collecting it ,and we should use it wisely.
What, me worry? YES. Water Wars have only just begun and our mantra should be "do the math, you've already wasted too much, don't suck the upper Colorado River dry."