Proponent Says Water Pipeline Would Benefit Wyoming

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) -- An entrepreneur pushing to develop a pipeline to carry water from the Green River to Colorado's fast-growing Front Range says the project could benefit Wyoming.

Aaron Million wants to develop a 400-mile pipeline to carry water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir on the Green River. He proposes building it along the Interstate 80 corridor with construction starting in about two years.

Addressing the Wyoming Water Association's annual meeting in Cheyenne, Million said the pipeline could also bring water to cities and towns in southeastern Wyoming.

"The state line does not excuse Wyoming from some of the things that are going on in Colorado," Million said Wednesday.

He said the demand for water on the Front Range is close to the limit of supply. The options are growing scarce and expensive while water-quality concerns are increasing, he said.

"The good, clean water from the high mountain areas has been fully developed, and the aquifers are being mined out," Million said.

Building the pipeline would allow Colorado to access its share of water under the Colorado River Compact. The compact is a 1920s-era agreement among western states on how to share water.

Million says his proposal is now undergoing environmental review.

Harry C. LaBonde, deputy Wyoming state engineer, said Thursday that state water officials have met with Million's representatives about the possibility of diverting water from the Green River in Wyoming.

"There has not been any kind of detailed conversations about water use, or the use of this water in Wyoming," LaBonde said. "That does change the whole permitting process."

"Our conversations with Mr. Million's representatives have been conceptual," he said. "As long as the water diversion does not affect Wyoming's ability to use its allocation under the Colorado River compact, then we don't see a large issue in Wyoming."

Based on the state's discussions with Colorado water representatives, Wyoming officials believe that Colorado does have undeveloped water rights available under the river agreement, LaBonde said.

The Bureau of Reclamation, which oversees Flaming Gorge Reservoir, recently prepared a study to determine how much water would be available for such a project.

Jeff Fassett of HDR Engineering Corp. said the bureau's study determined that after accounting for Wyoming's full share of Colorado River Basin water, and the water required to sustain downstream endangered fish recovery projects, the pipeline could still take about 165,000 acre-feet of water per year.

An acre-foot is about 325,000 gallons, the amount of water that covers an acre of land in a foot of water.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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