Public meeting tonight about water diversion project |

Public meeting tonight about water diversion project

Collin Smith

If you go

What: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public meeting

When: 6:30 to 9 p.m. today

Where: Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave.

— Developers and opponents of a proposed water diversion from the Green River to the Front Range hope Moffat County residents turn out to a public meeting about the issue tonight.

The Million Conservation Resource Group, a private business out of Fort Collins, proposes to divert 250,000 acre-feet of water from points in the Flaming Gorge Reservoir and Green River to new reservoirs in eastern Wyoming and along Colorado’s Front Range.

Both diversion points are about 130 miles upstream of Moffat County.

Each acre-foot of water is equal to about 325,851 gallons, which all would be transported through about 400 miles of underground pipelines to reservoirs near Lake Hattie, Wyo., and along the Front Range.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is analyzing the project, plans to host a public comment meeting about the issues from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the Center of Craig, 601 Yampa Ave.

Tonight’s meeting will be one of two on the Western Slope, with the second Thursday night in Grand Junction.

Aaron Million, who leads the Million Resource Group, said he thinks the project would benefit all of Colorado, including the Western Slope, where the water would be coming from.

Million has been the project’s leader since its inception, when he wrote his master’s thesis on the development for Colorado State University.

“The Green River Basin starts south of Jackson Hole (more than 300 miles north of Craig in Wyoming), and one of the major positives is it doesn’t come out of the Western Slope headwater streams,” Million said. “What is does allow, is it brings in a new watershed that alleviates development pressure on the western Colorado streams and tributaries.”

Others do not agree.

Luke Schafer, northwest campaign coordinator for the Colorado Environmental Coalition, a statewide lobby group, said Moffat County has little to gain from Million’s proposal.

“The bottom line is, there is no benefit to the folks of western Colorado,” Schafer said. “We’re not getting anything out of this, other than potential hardships down the road.”

Water resources are vital and limited, he added. Northwest Colorado should protect the natural water sources it has so local residents and businesses can use them in the future.

Becky Long, Environmental Coalition water coordinator out of the Denver office, said she has several questions about the project.

“The water is not necessarily unused, as Aaron has said, though no one has used it for the kind of large-scale municipal project like Aaron has proposed,” Long said. “Currently, that water flows down for all kinds of uses like agricultural, recreation, energy uses and the endangered species recovery program on the Colorado River.

“You’re not going to take 250,000 acre-feet of water and go unnoticed.”

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