Diverters be damned
HCN's story about Bob Rawlings is a classic tale of one influential man's moral conflict and hubris, yet the story is incomplete (HCN, 3/19/12, "Water Warrior"). Like Rawlings, the author disregards the damaging consequences of the original water diversion.
Rawlings will be remembered for maintaining a distinct tribal myopia for decades, and perhaps for overlooking the maxim that there is no honor among thieves. The idea that Aurora is the bully stealing Pueblo's water makes me want to laugh. Pueblo and other diverters take water from the Western slope, depleting the Frying Pan, which -- along with the Roaring Fork, Eagle, Blue and Fraser rivers -- is threatened, in danger of dying or already dead. They haven't given much more than lip service and a trickle of cash for the restoration and protection of riverine ecosystems, aquifers, forests or economies on the Continental Divide. We should not weep for Rawlings and his fellow hypocrites.
Colorado's water resources are dwindling and fouled. A $10 billion tourism industry is endangered by wasteful municipalities and unsustainable development. One only has to look at the murky, "snot-grass"-choked Lake Granby, once known as "the jewel of Colorado," and at President Eisenhower's beloved Fraser River, now not more than an algae-clogged ditch. What was the Roaring Fork River will scarcely trickle this summer. The Frying Pan has been reduced to a faux fishery for tired trout. Yet we still hear calls for increased diversion.
Show me a true Colorado hero who speaks for the rivers, forests and wildlife, which, like us, depend on healthy riparian zones to thrive. Coloradans need to get smart about preserving the water resources that attracted our forefathers to Colorado, before we become another Owens Valley. It won't be accomplished by Rawlings and other water-grabbers, but by Colorado citizens who appreciate all we have, and all we have to lose. Maybe that hero will ride in from a land with even greater water scarcity than our own, where the citizens practice conservation out of immediate necessity.