After the Upper Green River Water Basin Joint Powers Board met Monday afternoon, Aaron Million and Jeff Fassett presented a proposal for a water pipeline to carry water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir to the north front range of Colorado.
The proposed pipeline would carry 165,000 to 250,000 acre-feet of water per year from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir to locations on the front range of Colorado, such as Colorado Springs and Pueblo, for rural and urban use.
According to Million, the water is needed in Colorado for agricultural use as well as for urban use.
Many communities and agricultural lands in Colorado are dependent on nonrenewable water sources which will eventually be depleted, according to Million.
The project will be funded privately and then turned over to a public entity to manage because there is no state funding available in Colorado for public water projects and the state cannot afford it, Million said.
Million also commented that the water will come directly out of the State of Colorado's share of the river according to the Colorado River Compact.
The Colorado River Compact was established in 1922 and then revised in 1928, as an agreement among seven states in the basin of the Colorado River. It governs the allocations of the river's water.
States were separated into the Upper Basin--Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming--and the Lower Basin--Nevada, Arizona and California.
Million said the agreement allows Colorado to use unappropriated water from the Green River because flows through a part of western Colorado and there is no sub-compact call on it.
The water taken from the reservoir will actually be Colorado's share of the Green River, since the Green River flows into the reservoir.
Fassett explained the amount of water allocated to sell for this project was set by the Bureau of Reclamation after in-depth studies and models were developed.
“The bureau has the best model, and they made the decision,” Fassett said.
According to Fassett, BuRec took into consideration updated hydrology, base flow requirements, population growth and future depletions for Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.
“The bureau has done some extensive accounting for this,” Fassett said.
The model used for the study was based on the last 83 years of recorded history on the river, reservoir and the outlying area.
Fassett agrees the pipeline will cause some changes in the Annual Operating Plan of the reservoir, but does not foresee any major problems.
He said similar projects are in the works, such as the Lake Powell Pipeline, which will pump around 100,000 acre-feet of water to southern Utah.
The Lake Powell Pipeline project would allow Utah to tap into its unused portion of the Colorado River water. Utah currently uses only 74 percent of its annual allocation.
The proposed pipeline from Flaming Gorge Reservoir would cut across the southern half of Wyoming, following Interstate-80 where the natural gas pipelines are already located. The line would then turn south to Colorado. The developers have looked into to incorporating Lake Hattie, outside of Laramie, into the pipeline, but said that it wasn't necessary and could be avoided altogether.
Million said that because the project will be using existing infrastructure, it is the least damaging water project out there.
Million's interest in the project began with his thesis at Colorado State University, economic studies on the Green River Basin, and eventually turned into the Regional Watershed Supply Project, or the water pipeline to the front range in Colorado.
Fassett is a former Wyoming State Engineer and currently runs an engineering consulting firm based in Cheyenne.
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