Front Range projects are river threats, group says

GJ Sentinel
By Gary Harmon

The upper reaches of the Colorado River are endangered by proposed expansions of two transmountain-diversion projects, an advocacy group said. The projects, the Windy Gap Firming Project and the Moffat Tunnel Collection System Project, would increase diversions from the upper Colorado River by at least 48,000 acre-feet a year.

The threat to the river’s fishery, boating and water supply to downstream users placed the Upper Colorado River at No. 6 in the 2010 list of the nation’s most-endangered rivers by American Rivers.

The American Rivers list puts a needed spotlight on how much water is taken from the Colorado River Basin, Ken Neubecker of Colorado Trout Unlimited said.

“We need to start looking at whole picture not just the balkanized water-supply picture” of the way the Colorado River is divided up between the Front Range and Western Slope, Neubecker said.

Trout Unlimited hopes it can use American Waters’ listing of the river as endangered “as a vehicle to raise awareness on the Front Range about the cost of their water” in terms of water quality and quantity on the other side of the mountains, Neubecker said.