5:59pm

Wed June 29, 2011
Water

Task Force Takes Tepid Approach to Flaming Gorge Pipeline

A newly formed task force studying the feasibility of a proposed water pipeline between the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Wyoming and the Colorado Front Range plans to continue its work, despite loud opposition from some western Colorado water managers and conservation groups.

Some members of the task force that met for the first time Wednesday in Silverthorne expressed concerns that its very formation would create the perception that the state is signing off on the proposed 550 mile-long Flaming Gorge Pipeline.  The proposal has drawn numerous skeptics who say a huge trans-mountain straw isn’t feasible due to climate change projections and the potential water demands of downstream states. 

But the idea of a new water supply is supported by some Front Range water agencies and agriculture interests – including Sterling farmer Jim Yahn.  Yahn, a task force member, worries that farmers will continue to sell their water rights, a move he says will devastate the economy in his part of the state.

"We need a supply of water, because if we don’t, the Front Range entities always look to agriculture," he says.

The task force will now look to water managers across the state for input on how best to proceed with its study.  Noticeably absent from Wednesday’s meeting was Fort Collins entrepreneur Aaron Million, who has pitched the Flaming Gorge to federal regulators as a public-private project.