Plan to dewater SW Wyoming to fuel growth in Colorado a bad idea

NYT Times thinks so. It should be obvious to everyone-

That’s what we need, more urban sprawl on the front range of the Rockies in Colorado; and the water to fuel it will by pumped in from far away — SW Wyoming — the upper Green River. This kind of thinking is so pre-recession, and it is the kind of thinking that will lead to another bubble if we are lucky enough to ever get out of this economic crisis.

The developer, Aaron Million, deserves our opposition and our contempt.

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More on this-

Pipeline plan would divert water from Green. Some worry effects could be felt all the way to the headwaters of drainage. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.





  1. Don George Avatar
    Don George

    Coming from Colorado I could see something like this coming years ago. Colorado city councils along the front range have been promoting irresponsible growth (tax dollars) since the early 90’s. Not only irresponsible growth but poor water management also. Most of the housing developments including those being currently developed demand that each house has a least 60% of there plot in grass which needs constant watering. We have fought to shoot down the building of Dams for years on certain Colorado rivers but I’m afraid were losing the battle.
    The developers and those associated with the building industry have the city councils in their pocket and due to greed it will continue to march on

  2. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    This guy is attempting to steal water from the Yampa River, NW of Maybell, CO. The pipeline will have to be around 250 miles long. We are hoping the Colorado Water Conservation Board will kill this plan in it’s infancy.


  3. Rick Hammel Avatar
    Rick Hammel

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the southern states of the Colorado River Basin Compact of 1923 (?) might have a lot to say about a private developer digging into their 9 million acre-feet of water that has to pass by Glen Canyon Dam each year. The Green is a major contributor to this allotment. It is also why Flaming Gorge Resevoir was built; to hold water for the 9maf in reserve. In the past few years, the resevoir has been far from full, as has been Lake Powell. There are a lot of legal issues that this guy is going to have to overcome.


  4. doug Avatar

    This plan is pretty bad and has a lot of problems obviously. Tapping Colorado River basin water for tons of lawns and golf courses is just not appropriate.
    I do want to point out two things that may not be popular, but are realistic, considering current trends.
    First off, the eastern plains of CO has got to be about the most marginal farmland in the U.S., and while the farmers there are already getting screwed, we do need to seriously re-examine the wisdom of using a lot of water there.
    Second, people are still moving to CO’s front range, and it ain’t gonna stop. I’m born and bred here, interact with many people in their late 20’s and early 30’s, and it’s quite obvious that growth is not going to stop. I’ve gotten past the point of being real mad about it, and see it as an opportunity. The more the front range can function as the urban hub for the rocky mountain west, the less people will live in places that still have vast tracts of wild land, i.e. MT, WY, SW Colorado, etc.
    Everyone in the Front Range loves in a very small area, keeping the rest of the state and region quite unpopulated. You can then center all the large urban activites there, make more dense, sustainable communities (The Front Range is perfect for passenger rail and fastTracks is the beginningof that for just the denver area)
    I wish a huge push to create native lawns and conservation practices could be encoded in law, that is the huge challenge. I’m not happy that my home region is going to become the monolith of the region, but it really does make the most sense at this point. and unfortunately, we’re gonna probably need more water at somepoint. I just hope strict water usage is institutionalized before we get to the point where we have to take it from far away drainages.

  5. Tom Page Avatar
    Tom Page

    I agree with you Rick…the idea that Wyoming would let thousands of acre-feet of water go to fuel Colorado growth is extremely unlikely to say the least, in addition to the CR Compact issues you mention.

    The article talks about all the obvious wildlife implications, but that’s really missing the point when it comes to who holds the power to divvy up water supplies.

  6. kt Avatar

    Expect the worst with Salazar as Interior Secretary. That big sucking sound you hear is Colorado siphoning off WY water.

    A water heist is already occurring in E ID and WY with cloud seeding. Now Colorado wants some of the cloud-seeding stolen precip water taken from Wyoming???

    It seems to me the first thing that needs to be done is a rational accounting of how much water is being wasted raping wild land watersheds with livestock grazing, and the linked growing of wasteful livestock food in WY and CO. Yeah, Ken Salazar will be right on top of that one, I am sure.

    ALSO as these efforts to move water around the West surface, we – it is more reason to believe that behind the hype of a need for a vast array of new electrical and other infrastructure ‘cuz we must have renewable energy destroying wild places -and then we must somehow get it to cities a gazillion miles away – is that some of these corridors will also later be used to move water around …

  7. Jeff Avatar

    The Colorado River Intestate Compact of 1922 allocated water to the 7 states within the Basin. This compact was flawwed from its inception. USGS officials measured river flows at the Mexican border in 1921 and nearly 16 million acre feet of water flowed that year. Quick math was done 7.5MAF for the Upper Basin States (CO, UT, NM and WY) and 7.5 MAF for the Lower Basin States (CA, NV and AZ), 1 MAF was allocated to Mexico. Of this allocated water CO and CA got the lion’s share of the water, I believe 4.5MAF each. One major problem with this plan. 1921 was a really wet year, never again has 16MAF of water come down the Colorado River. Colorado does not use its share of the compact, neither does Wyoming, the policy is “Use it or Lose it”. Flaming Gorge and ALL reservoirs built on the Colorado River or any of its tributaries above Lake Powell are built for Upper Basin Storage and Use. If Colorado wants to use water for a “productive use” it is entitled to its share and diverting water from another upper Basin state is permissible. I believe Wyoming is allocated .75MAF of water in the Green, if it doesn’t use it, it loses it and Colorado is entitlted to put that water to beneficial use.
    I’m not a big fan of trans basin water projects and I’m a river rat, but I do think this guy has an engenious idea to use an existing reservoir to pump water to the front range given the fact that Colorado isn’t currently using its share of the Colorado River Compact. The really scary thing is that California has been using close to 7.5 MAF for the past several decades and in the near future they might be forced to cut back to their allocated amount. Some folks might say “Good”, but be careful not to bite the hand that feeds you because most of that water is used for agriucultural purposes to grow all the fruits and veggies we so love…


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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