The scope of a pipeline

 

Water entrepreneur Aaron Million's world may course with "Wild Turkey, fast horses and gunfire." But his proposed Regional Watershed Supply Project — a massive pipeline that would dogleg 250,00 acre feet of water from Wyoming's Green River across the Rockies, and south to Pueblo, Colorado — may not be flowing toward completion at quite the same rate.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the agency responsible for reviewing the proposal under the Clean Water Act, estimates it'll take five years to complete an Environmental Impact Statement for the project, which will require an estimated $3 billion in private funding to execute. (Can't be cheap to create new reservoirs near Fort Collins and Pueblo, let alone build a 568-mile pipeline.) However, the 6-month scoping  period, in which the public was invited to comment on the idea, is now in the Corps' books.  Their summary report, released this month, demonstrates the mounting controversy and confusion over Million's ambitious dream to help slake — or encourage? — the ever-growing thirst of the Front Range.

Thirty categories of "significant issues" were derived from over 2,000 comments. From these, 7,409 "substantive" comments were parsed (i.e., many submissions included multiple concerns). The majority of the comments arrived from Wyoming (62.8 percent), which suggests the depth of the concern there about the potential impacts of the diversion: Will Million's pipe also divert local growth, tourism and fish populations? The second largest pool of commentators came from Colorado (26 percent). As for the comments themselves, the highest percentage fell into the Water Resources category (18 percent), followed by the Socioeconomics, Aquatic Species and Recreation categories (13, 7 and 7 percent, respectively).

Up next for the project is the Corps' review of who would buy the water, and whether there's really a demand. In the mean time, match the comment to the category . . . if you can:

 

 

Answers: 1, b; 2, d; 3, e; 4, a; 5, c

High Country News Classifieds