A REVERENCE FOR RIVERS Luna B. Leopold, Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of California,…
Hello Friends of the Colorado River!
Today, Congressman Cory Gardner (R-CO4) introduced an amendment to the Water Resources Reform and Development Act that would undermine our environmental laws, drain our rivers, and likely force local and state governments to raise taxes to pay for new water projects. As you know, the Colorado River was recently named America’s most endangered. Our elected leaders should be working to protect and restore this vital resource, which provides water to 36 million people, irrigates 4 million acres or farmland, and drives our tourism and recreation based economy. We can’t afford further threats to the river!
In response, Save The Colorado took out online advertisements (left) in D.C., Denver, and Greeley, Colorado newspapers to highlight the threat of Gardner’s amendment.
Gardner’s amendment (read it here) would force federal departments and agencies, including the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to “streamline” the decision-making process into an unworkable 1-year timeline. Doing so would gut the science that is required by the National Environmental Policy Act and the Clean Water Act. For example, multi-year scientific investigations are required in order to understand the profound environmental impacts of a large dam, pipeline, or reservoir. Gardner’s amendment would undercut that science and lay the permitting process in the hands of politicians which would threaten not just the health of rivers but the cleanliness of our drinking water.
Further, by potentially forcing the Corps to approve projects in an unworkable short timeline, state and local governments would in turn be forced to find ways to pay for these projects, such as the statewide sales tax that was proposed and defeated in the State of Utah to pay for the proposed Lake Powell Pipeline. In Gardner’s district in Colorado, small towns are already struggling to raise water rates and fees to pay for the proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project, a boondoggle that would further drain the Cache la Poudre and Colorado Rivers to subsidize new housing growth. Both of these projects would have profound negative consequences on the health of our rivers. The Lake Powell Pipeline would further drain the Colorado River and threaten water supplies throughout the already drought-stricken Southwest U.S. The Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) would further drain and destroy the Cache la Poudre River of Northern Colorado — in fact, the U.S. EPA said NISP would “violate the Clean Water Act” by diverting so much water out of the river.
The amendment was so bad that an allied organization called it “ODOR-PIT” — Office to Destroy Our Rivers and Publicly Increase Taxes. Gardner’s amendment was discussed in a committee hearing in the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday, October 29th — a vote in the committee is forthcoming.
Save The Colorado knows that better alternatives exist rather than these damaging projects that would drain and destroy our rivers. Alternatives that focus on water conservation and efficiency, water recycling, better growth management, and water sharing agreements with farmers are the right path forward. In fact the two projects noted above have had extensive alternatives prepared. For the Lake Powell Pipeline, a “Local Waters Alternatives” has been prepared that provides water to the nearby cities without further draining the Colorado River and with much less money than the Pipeline. For the Northern Integrated Supply Project, “A Better Future For The Poudre River” alternative has been prepared that is also much cheaper and more sustainable.
Congressman Gardner needs to focus on saving money and saving water, not destroying our rivers and environmental laws — the alternatives above are better, cheaper, and faster paths forward that protect the endangered rivers of the Southwest U.S. including the Colorado River.
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This Save The Colorado ad campaign is a project of Clean Water Action (email@example.com)