Colorado Funds Support for Flaming Gorge Pipeline Study
Grand Junction, CO – This week, after much deliberation, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) approved a highly diluted proposal to fund a study for the Flaming Gorge Pipeline. The request for state funding was brought to the CWCB by the Colorado Springs-based Pikes Peak Water Authority. Pikes Peak Water Authority's intent for funding is to investigate the feasibility of building a 570-mile pipeline to bring water from the Green River in Wyoming, to Colorado's Front Range.
The original request for state funding totaled $240,000 and outlined a multi-year assessment of the project; the CWCB's approval funds only $72,500 with only a 6 month planning horizon. The watered-down proposal was developed overnight by CWCB staff and study proponents in response to opposition for the original proposal from thousands of members of the public, a large coalition of conservation groups including American Whitewater, taxpayer representatives, and West Slope businesses.
Proponents of the feasibility study maintain that the study's focus is on establishing a process that will identify issues and opportunities for developing new water supplies for Colorado's front range. The study will use the Flaming Gorge Pipeline as a test case. Two proposals to develop the Flaming Gorge Pipeline are underway - one from Fort Collins entrepreneur Aaron Million and another from a coalition of water providers in the south Denver metro region.
Opposition to the feasibility study is rooted in the use of the Flaming Gorge Pipeline proposal, a project that was withdrawn from formal permitting and approval by the US Army Corps of Engineers earlier this year. During CWCB proceedings this week, conservation groups requested that the CWCB take all reference to the Flaming Gorge Pipeline Project out of the feasibility study, and focus rather on developing a process of evaluating new supply opportunities. Conservation groups continue to have numerous concerns about the process even in a scaled back form. While smaller, the process moving forward would require thousands of dollars in state funds to investigate a controversial and environmentally damaging project which thousands of Colorado citizens have expressed concern over. This week members of the Joint Budget Committee expressed their concerns over the process notably that it seems to duplicate an existing efforts of the Interbasin Compact Committee.
Ultimately, a Flaming Gorge pipeline project entails enormous costs and is almost certainly
infeasible. Dedicating even a small amount of state funding to identify all the issues raised by
building such a pipeline, which duplicates existing state funded efforts, and provides a big
distraction from far more legitimate water supply solutions. We will continue to work with
the CWCB, project proponents and other stakeholders to further the important and difficult
dialogue around meeting Colorado’s future water needs.