A veteran Colorado engineer said last week that entrepreneur Aaron Million’s hopes to move 250,000 acre feet of water from the Flaming Gorge to Colorado’s thirsty Front Range are dubious at best. According to estimates, if the pipeline is approved, municipal and other entities in southwest Wyoming and western Colorado that rely on the Green River may not have enough water to meet their future recreation, tourism and industrial growth needs.
“There’s just no water for Million for this project,” Colorado River Water Conservation District General Manager Eric Kuhn told members of a local group opposing the pipeline project.
Million estimates that high-alpine glaciers in Wyoming’s Wind River Range pour about 1.18 million acre feet of water into the Flaming Gorge Reservoir via the Green River each year. But records show in the past two decades that inflows have only averaged about 970,000 acre feet of water into the popular lake.
“The [Million pipeline] question comes down to inflows into the Flaming Gorge … and all the science suggests a drier future,” Kuhn told members of the Communities Protecting the Green River Committee during an informational meeting Tuesday night.
“If Million is right and flows average 1.18 million acre feet each year, then we should all be OK … but if he’s wrong and we keep seeing that bottom number, then we’re in a world of hurt,” Kuhn said.
Million has applied to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to build the private pipeline at an estimated cost of $3 billion. He has identified several Colorado agricultural interests and some municipal interest in southeastern Wyoming as potential customers for the water. The Corps of Engineers is preparing an environmental study of the proposal, which is expected to be completed in 2016.
For more on the Flaming Gorge project, visit Coyote Gulch.