Windy Gap Firming Project: Time to get involved
September 25, 2008
While a handful of Grand County residents have been carrying the load of watchdogging the river, it is now the time for everybody who cares about the health of our streams to roll up their sleeves and help carry that load. If you have ever asked
“What I do to help?” here is what we can all do to help. The Windy Gap Project draft Environmental Impact Statement has been presented to the public for review and comment. We have until Oct.29 to make our voices heard. We all will need to write letters and attend two very important meetings. The first meeting is on Sept. 30 at 6:30 p.m. at the Old Church in Fraser. At this meeting environmental groups from around the State will give us the comment points that we need to express and they will train us in the protocols of the public hearing process. The public hearing for the Windy Gap Project is set for October 9th at 6:00 pm at the Granby Library. Our only power is our voice, so we need to pack this hearing and everybody there needs to voice their concerns. This is how all of us can help the river. At the meeting on the 30th, we will present a menu of comments that can be made at the public hearing.
Each individual can choose which of these comments they are most passionate about and speak to those issues. This public hearing and the letters that we generate are our one chance to influence this process. Please commit to using your energy for making a difference. The Windy Gap Project intends to divert another 30,000 acre feet from the Upper Colorado River. With 60% of this river already being diverted, this project will be taking another 20 percent of an already unhealthy river. These are some of the issues that we will be discussing on the 30th:
– The draft EIS acknowledges that there will be impacts to the river but offers no mitigation of those impacts. Those profiting from selling this water need to address the impacts to the river. Without a mitigation plan we plan to oppose this project.
– The draft EIS is a two and a half inch thick document. To fully understand and this document and respond intelligently, we need more time that the 29th of October allows. We propose a 60-day extension so that phase 3 of the Grand County Stream Management Plan will be complete and can be used as a guideline for mitigation.
– The draft EIS looks only at the impacts to the river caused by the Windy Gap Firming Project. The Moffat Firming Project will further reduce the flows in the Upper Colorado River. These two projects are seeking Federal approval at the same time and their collective impacts need to be included in the Windy Gap draft EIS.
– The draft EIS states that there will be lower flows in the Upper Colorado River if this project is approved. It also states that lower flows will cause higher stream temperatures, less fish and a higher concentration of nutrients such as ammonia and inorganic phosphorus. With lower flows over a longer period of time, the draft EIS claims that there will be no drop in rafter days. We need to question this statement. With higher stream temperature and fewer fish, the draft EIS claims that there will be no drop in fishing days. We need to question this.
– If the lower flows proposed will cause higher stream temperatures and a higher concentration of nutrients in the Upper Colorado River, then Denver Water lowering the flows in the Fraser River will have a similar affect. When the water from a further de-watered Fraser River is pumped into the Three Lakes Area, will the warmer temperatures and higher concentration of nutrients increase an already visible algae problem in Grand Lake? This question needs to be answered in the draft EIS.
– Windy Gap Reservoir is the cradle for whirling disease. The draft EIS needs to address the impact of pumping more of this water into the Three Lakes and over to East Slope reservoirs.
– The participants in this project intend to get 10% of their future needs by further depleting the Upper Colorado River and 34 percent of their future needs through conservation and new sources. The draft EIS needs to explain why further depleting an already impaired stream is the first choice and conservation a later option.
To do your part, come to the meeting on the Sept. 30 at the Old Church in Fraser (on the corner of Eisenhower Ave and Norgren Ave.) at 6:30 p.m.
Go to the public hearing in Loveland on Oct. 7 at the McKee Conference Center at 7 p.m. (200 Boise Ave.)
Be at the public hearing on Oct. 9 at the Inn at Silver Creek at 7 p.m. and make your voice heard. This is our one chance to make a difference.
If you can’t make evening meetings then you can have an impact on this process by writing to:
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
Eastern Colorado Area Office
11056 W. County Rd. 18E
Loveland, CO 80537-9711
Friends of the Fraser River