Panel hears competing proposals for Flaming Gorge pipeline
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A coalition seeking to pipe water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir to Colorado’s Front Range touted the public nature of its makeup Tuesday, while a man proposing a private-public pipeline defended his approach.
Aaron Million of Wyco Power and Water Inc. and representatives of a group called the Colorado-Wyoming Coalition laid out details of their competing proposals in Glenwood Springs before a state committee examining issues surrounding possible diversion of water from the reservoir to Colorado. Flaming Gorge straddles the Utah/Wyoming line just northwest of Colorado.
Frank Jaeger, president of the Colorado-Wyoming Coalition, told the committee it’s important to understand his group is made up of “a bistate group of people, all elected officials, all supplying water to municipalities and end users.”
The coalition’s Wyoming entities include Laramie County and the cities of Torrington and Cheyenne. In Colorado, coalition members include Castle Rock, the Parker Water & Sanitation District and other Front Range entities.
Million said he has letters of interest in his pipeline proposal from 17 entities, and more expressing interest as well.
But Carl Trick, a member of the Basin Roundtable Project Exploration Committee, told Million, “It’s in the minds of most that you as a private individual want to make money off it.”
Million said private development of water projects in the region dates back to the 1860s, and it doesn’t matter who runs such projects as long as they’re financially sound.
The Colorado Water Conservation Board in September authorized spending up to $72,000 to have the exploration committee examine the idea of a Flaming Gorge project. Some environmentalists objected to the expenditure.
Million said Tuesday his project could provide water for instream flows, an environmental benefit. Proponents of both projects said they would protect agricultural land, which otherwise would be dried up, to meet future water needs.
But some say Flaming Gorge serves as a bank account that states, including Colorado, can use to help assure they meet their obligations under a 1922 compact with downstream states involving the use of the Colorado River Basin water.
“Are we going into that bank to bring new supply of water online for the Front Range?” committee member Ken Spann of Gunnison asked.
Jaeger said any concerns about his coalition’s proposal would be addressed in an open manner.
“We want everybody at the table so you can ask your questions and get them answered as the project moves along,” he said.