Living Rivers - Colorado Riverkeeper
      Home    |    About    |    News    |    Campaigns   
January 25, 2010

Big Gulp

Forget the Green River pipeline
Tribune Editorial

Salt Lake Tribune
Updated:01/25/2010 05:28:32 PM MST

Linked here

A guy named Million wants to spend billions to pipe part of Wyoming's Green River 400 miles to Denver and beyond. But as global warming threatens the flows in the Green, it would be foolhardy to suck great gulps of water from the stream. To sustain both wildlife and humans, the waters should be left alone.

Aaron Million's idea is to pull up to 250,000 acre-feet of water annually from the Green at two points. One would be Flaming Gorge reservoir, the other would be a point upstream, perhaps just below the Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge in Wyoming or maybe closer to the town of Green River (Wyoming, not Utah). He would develop the water with $3 billion in private funds, then sell it to thirsty Coloradans in the suburbs of Denver and points south. Many of these folks may not live there now, but the population of Colorado is projected to double to 10 million by 2050, so Million is sure the water will be needed. It's a variation on "if you build it, they will come."

Colorado is entitled to develop the water within its allocation under the Colorado River Compact of 1922 and succeeding laws of the river.

It's a scheme worthy of William Mulholland, the engineer who ravaged Southern California water resources for the City of Los Angeles early in the 20th century. But today such thinking is outdated, or at least it should be. One reason is that everyone has seen the environmental devastation in the Owens Valley and elsewhere created by Mulholland's projects and others like it.

The Green is fed by the snows and glaciers of the Wind River range, but those glaciers are shrinking. When they're gone, the winter flows of the river will fall, placing greater pressure on the fish, birds and other wildlife that rely on the river and on the humans who use it, including folks from Green River, Wyo., to Green River, Utah, and farther south to Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

The Colorado River Compact allocates the water in the river, and while it is true that portions of Utah's and Colorado's allocations remain undeveloped, it is doubtful that they should be. The reason is that the compact allocations were based on a historically wet cycle in the river, and it is improbable that the river can supply all of the water that has been allocated, particularly in light of climate change.

So the more sensible thing to do is for the people of the West to better adapt to their arid environment and use less water.

Developing ways to pipe water that probably won't be there in the future just doesn't make sense.

Back | Top
Last Update: October 30, 2007

Home  |  About  |  News  |  Campaigns
Living Rivers    PO Box 466     Moab, UT 84532     435.259.1063