Guest Commentary: How much is a river worth?

July 5, 2011
Denver Post
By Drew Peternell
Most Front Range residents don’t realize that much of the water they use comes directly from the streams and rivers of the upper Colorado River basin. A spider-web network of dams and pumps and pipelines delivers water from Western Slope rivers to showerheads and sprinklers in Denver and surrounding areas.

Already the Front Range takes about 60 percent of the water that originates in the upper Colorado River basin, draining Grand County to the point that many of its once pristine streams now run dry.

The damage is severe. State biologists have recorded alarming declines in fish, insects and aquatic life. In late summer, dozens of clear streams like Jim Creek are reduced to rust-tinted trickles.

And now, Front Range water providers are planning to bleed the Colorado River some more.

Two proposed water-diversion projects — Denver Water’s Moffat Tunnel expansion project and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s Windy Gap firming project — threaten to push the Colorado and Fraser Rivers and their tributaries past the tipping point. Combined, the projects could leave as little as 25 percent of native upper Colorado River water on the Western Slope.

The rivers and streams of the upper Colorado basin are in critical condition. Unless we act now to protect them from future diversions, they could be flat-lined.

Read more: Guest Commentary: How much is a river worth? – The Denver Post

Kirk Klancke: Saving Grand County’s rivers

July 5, 2011
Sky-Hi News
By Kirk Klancke
Guest opinion

While we have had reasons for optimism recently in the battle to save our rivers, we have also recently received a hard blow from the Colorado Wildlife Commission.

On June 9, the Commission voted to approve the mitigation plans for Denver Water’s (Moffat Firming) and Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District’s (Windy Gap Firming) diversion projects despite comments from commissioners who felt that way too little mitigation is being offered.

The support for these mitigation plans is a statement from the Wildlife Commission that this should be the state’s official position on these projects. Thanks to the enthusiasm of Grand County residents to save our rivers, this decision was made with stacks of written comment on the commissioners’ table and several Grand County residents at the meeting speaking on behalf of the Fraser and Upper Colorado rivers.

It was very apparent at the June 9 meeting that politics, not science, is being used to decide the fate of these rivers.