Windy Gap Firming Project will harm the Colorado River in Grand County
November 19, 2008
To the Editor:
I am very appreciative that our local paper is keeping the Windy Gap Firming Project issue alive. I am not a blogger so I was unable to influence the weekly poll in the November 10 paper.
Judging by the 43.33 percent who trust Northern to look out for Grand County’s interests, Northern must have employees who do surf the Web. They also write interesting articles for our local paper. The article I’m referring to, written by Northern’s public affairs coordinator, came out in the Nov. 18 paper.
Given enough lipstick, a professional marketing person can make any pig look good. It is true that there is a dialogue between the West Slope and Northern, but a dialogue is only idle conversation until somebody takes responsibility by signing on the dotted line. While it sounds good to Northern to only take water from the river during high flows, the health of the river is directly connected to receiving a healthy flushing flow each spring. The best way to describe a river whose flows don’t fluctuate is a flat line. In medical terms, this is not a good thing.
Yes, the draft Environmental Impact Statement does have a section on the cumulative effects of Denver Water taking more water out of the Fraser River. This section admits that the water quality in the Upper Colorado River will be worse off because of the cumulative effects of both projects, but proposes no solutions to the cumulative effects.
The Upper Colorado River already has so much water diverted out of it that it is presently struggling to move sediment and maintain temperatures that can sustain a cold water fishery. Increased diversions will not improve this condition, no matter who’s “water math” you use.
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As, for water conservation, even the people who live in the municipalities applying for this water will tell you that there is still a tremendous waste of water in outdoor watering. Just the fact that some of the water they are taking from the river is used to water a grass from Kentucky proves waste. When all possible conservation measures are in place and 100 percent of their reuse water is being reused, then they can seriously consider further depletions from an already impaired river.
We need to have more than thoughtful dialogue to keep this river alive. Northern is talking to us now because we are asking for meaningful mitigation that will keep the Upper Colorado River alive. Through complacency we will loose any leverage that we now have in asking for mitigating the impacts of this project. You don’t have to be a water expert to write to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and ask for committed, meaningful mitigation to be a condition of this water diversion project.
Anybody who cares about the river and the environment that it sustains, in our county, needs to weigh in on this issue. Emotion is as important as intellect in this process. Because the public comment period was extended, we have a wonderful opportunity for a show of force. Write to Will Tully at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation at the Eastern Colorado Office, 11056 W. County Rd. 18E, Loveland, CO. 80537-9711 or e-mail Will Tully at firstname.lastname@example.org Be sure to put Windy Gap Firming on the subject line.
Friends of the Fraser River