February 23, 2012
Pumping More from the Upper Colorado River: An Idea That Sucks
By Kirk Deeter
Yesterday, I spoke at a rally at the Colorado State Capitol. I was there with Trout Unlimited to make a public case to Governor John Hickenlooper that he pay attention to the Environmental Protection Agency, and not rubber stamp a plan to suck even more water out of the upper stretches of the Colorado River watershed. As it stands now, nearly two thirds of the historic flows from the Upper Colorado are already siphoned away. It's silty. It's weedy. There are fewer bugs and fewer fish. And still, they want more.
My analogy is this: Imagine we woke up tomorrow and learned that Pike's Peak were 90% comprised of high grade coal. We could build a power plant, and burn that coal, providing free power to the cities of Denver and Colorado Springs for 20 years. All we'd have to do is shave off two-thirds of Pike's Peak. Who's going to step up and say, "Let's start with a little bit off the top!"? Nobody. At least nobody with a brain, and/or the slightest bit of respect for natural history and the environment.
So why is it cool to draw off two thirds or more of the Colorado River? It's not. I'll submit to you that the Colorado River is every bit as much the iconic natural landmark that Pike's Peak is. I'd also submit that the long term value of the Colorado River--the one that future generations will appreciate--has much more to do with protecting the resource for recreation and tourism (the state's number two industry), than it does about how much we can suck out of the river today.
It's time for more anglers in this state--and nationwide--to step up to the megaphone and voice their concerns. This isn't a left-right, Republican or Democrat issue. It's about rivers and fishing. And if you care about those things, you'll tune in and speak up.