Officials: ‘Not 1 more drop’ to Front Range

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As Gary Harmon comprehensively chronicled in Monday’s Daily Sentinel – “Officials:  ‘Not 1 more drop’ to Front Range” – our intra-state “water war” is heating-up again.

In response to Governor Hickenlooper’s timely call for a “statewide water plan” by the end of 2014, Grand Valley water managers – rightfully wary of succumbing to the impending practical necessity of “reallocating” some water from the Western to the Eastern Slope – drafted a resolution (for eventual endorsement by local governments) specifying nine goals which that plan should properly address, including “implementation of a long-term water-augmentation plan”.

Of course, as the drafters know, augmenting Colorado’s available water supplies by draining its similarly dry neighbors is at best problematic.  However, the recent and ongoing controversy over the Keystone-XL Pipeline suggests another potential source.

While all Great Lakes states have statutorily prohibited interstate export of fresh water, and while Canada seems equally unwilling, Alaska has long sought to financially profit from its virtually limitless supplies of fresh water.

In the early 1990s, the Southwest’s “sustained severe drought” prompted proposals – and enthusiastic Alaskan support—for an under-sea water pipeline from Alaska to northern California.  That theoretically beneficial “science fiction” project was abandoned in 1994, when its costs (independent of environmental impacts) were estimated at $150 billion.

Meanwhile, since then, the existing overland XL-Keystone Pipeline was constructed for only $5.2 billion, with its pending expansion slated to cost another $7+ billion.  Peanuts?

Thus, Western Slope water managers might “augment” their resolution by asking the Governor to request a federal feasibility study of a trans-Canada pipeline to carry water from Alaska to the upper reaches of the Flaming George Reservoir (and then beyond).

Because such a pipeline would benefit the entire Colorado River Compact basin, its costs could be shared even more equitably than the Compact’s current allocation of the River.

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