Apr 202009
Authors: Matt Minich

Aaron Million, of Million Conservation Resource Group, calls his new project “the single most valuable thesis ever produced at (CSU).”

Million’s proposed project, called the Regional Watershed Supply Project, would divert 250,000 acre-feet from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir and Green River in Wyoming for use in southern Wyoming and Colorado.

He originally thought of the project while he was a student at CSU.

Million said Colorado is facing an “environmental disaster” created by water shortages in recent years and said his project would alleviate some water concerns along Colorado’s Front Range.

An acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover an acre of land in a foot of water — it comes out to just over 27,000 gallons. According to a press release from the Save the Poudre Coalition, this is just under the Poudre River’s entire native flow of 260,000 acre-feet.

The diverted water would follow a pipeline stretching across southern Wyoming from Flaming Gorge Reservoir, feeding Lake Hattie Reservoir just east of Laramie. The pipeline would then head south, pumping water into the proposed Cactus Hill Reservoir west of I-25 near Fort Collins and roughly follow the interstate to the proposed T-Cross Reservoir near Colorado Springs and Pueblo.

Million’s project is currently being evaluated by the Army Corps of Engineers, who held the latest in a series of meetings to garner public input on the project’s environmental impacts Monday night at Fossil Ridge High School.

This public outreach is a part of the Corps’ efforts to draft an Environmental Impact Statement for the project, said Rena Brand, the project manager. The initial draft of the EIS is estimated to be completed by 2012, which would make it possible for the project to be approved as soon as 2014.

“The Corps of Engineers is not a proponent or opponent of the project,” said Brand, who hosted the meeting and took input from at least 50 attendees.

While Million said his project was the least environmentally damaging option proposed to deal with water issues in Colorado, many attending the meeting said they opposed the project because of potential environmental damage. Complaints about the project included environmental concerns and questions about land use and the privatization of water in Colorado.

“We are very concerned about the effects of endangered species,” said Gary Wockner, a spokesperson for the Save the Poudre Coalition.

Dr. Duane Keown, a retired science and education professor at the University of Wyoming, said the project would adversely affect the four species of endangered fish he said live in the Green River, as well as the elk and other animals that use the river for water and graze near its banks.

Keown also said he opposed the project as one that would fuel future urban development along the Front Range, which he said was not in line with the area’s environmental needs.

“There is a new land ethic across the West that says we don’t want to develop all of it,” he said.

Many attending also expressed concern over the ownership and use of the water. Million said that his company had applied for the rights to the water, and said he would sell it in turn to users along the Front Range.

Million would not disclose specifics, but said that he had secured a number of contracts with agricultural users in the event the project goes through.

The Army Corps of Engineers will hold two more public scoping meetings on the project on the today and Wednesday in Denver and Pueblo respectively.

Staff writer Matt Minich can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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