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For Immediate Release
May 13, 2014
Contacts: Gary Wockner, Save The Poudre and Save The Colorado, 970.218.8310
Chris Garre, The Environmental Group of Boulder County, 720.324.0525

Have Colorado's Water Wars Begun?

Draft "Colorado Water Plan" is a "Colorado Rivers Destruction Plan" and may violate federal law

Denver, CO -- On May 12th, the State of Colorado released "draft chapters" (posted here) of the "Colorado Water Plan" but that plan reads more like a "Colorado Rivers Destruction Plan" and may violate federal law. The draft plan for the South Platte basin states:

"Completion of planned storage projects, including Glade Reservoir, Halligan and Seaman Reservoir Enlargements, Gross Reservoir Enlargement, and the Chatfield Reallocation Project, is critical to meeting future water supply needs. These projects will supply much‚Äźneeded water to project participants, and failure to complete these projects will result in water shortages, additional Agricultural Transfers, or additional water diversions from the Colorado River Basin." (page 11)

"Has the water war begun? This draft Colorado Water Plan is a Colorado Rivers Destruction Plan," said Gary Wockner who directs campaigns to Save The Poudre and Save The Colorado rivers. "Building the projects in this draft plan would require five huge new dams and remove up to 100,000 acre feet of water out of the Poudre, Colorado, and South Platte Rivers."

The draft plan also may violate federal law and flies in the face of statements made by the Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, James Eklund. In an April 8th meeting with Gary Wockner, Eklund stated that the Plan would not endorse projects. Further, in a February 19th recorded legislative luncheon, Eklund stated:

"The Water Plan, we need to level set expectations about what this plan's gonna do and what it's not gonna do, like Travis said. It's not going to endorse water projects. At least this, right out of the box, this plan needs to be the path forward in articulating how we're going to do our regulatory business in water projects, not pick winners and losers. So, the reality is, right now, we can't endorse, as a state, a water project. And the reason we can't do that it is because if you do, you have handed the opponents to that project the biggest club to hit you over the head with because you're being pre-decisional, because the state does have a couple of pressure points that it has to exert in that federal permitting process. What the plan can do, and will do, is make sure we are be as efficient and effective with that process as possible." (the audio recording is posted here)

"This draft plan may violate federal law and everything Director Eklund has told the public," said Chris Garre of The Environmental Group of Boulder County which is addressing the threat of the Moffat Project. "The Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act require that the Colorado Dept of Health and Environment and the Colorado Dept of Parks and Wildlife independently evaluate projects and not have a pre-determined outcome."

On February 11th, eighteen environmental groups gave input into the Colorado Water Plan, requesting that it focus on alternatives to dams and reservoirs, and focus on river restoration (that input is here). The draft plan does the exact opposite.

The draft plan and other documents were made public on May 12th and are posted on the "Colorado Water Plan" website here.

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