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Concerns raised about Wyo-Col water pipeline

Concerns raised about Wyo-Col water pipeline



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ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. (AP) -- Citizens and local officials voiced opposition to a Colorado entrepreneur's plan to pipe water from southwest Wyoming to Colorado's bustling Front Range.

At one point during the public meeting Tuesday night someone shouted "Stop stealing Wyoming water."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is holding meetings this month in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah to get public comment on what an environmental study should address.

Aaron Million, a Fort Collins, Colo., businessman, has proposed building a 400-mile pipeline to carry up to 250,000 acre feet of water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir on Wyoming's Green River to Colorado.

The pipeline would follow Interstate 80 east across Wyoming, possibly bringing some water to cities in eastern Wyoming, before carrying most of it south to Colorado.

The project would cost about $3 billion.

Rena Brand, project manager for the Corps of Engineers in Littleton, Colo., told the crowd Tuesday night that the process of reviewing the pipeline could take until 2014.

"As you see it is quite a process," Brand said.

Million addressed the meeting, saying he has worked for the last three years with the best water teams on environmental, water and legal issues surrounding the project. He said 14 percent of the water is allocated to Wyoming while 51.75 percent is allocated to the upper basin of Colorado.

Million said Utah is doing the same type of pipeline on Lake Powell, which is moving water to different areas. Million said if Wyoming would like to see some of its allocated water moved, he would also provide that service.

Million said variables such as drought has been factored into the project.

Curing the public comment period people questioned why there are no state agencies regulating this project and what benefits the project would have for western Wyoming. Another popular question was how a private entrepreneur can take water from Wyoming and sell it to Colorado.

Others worried the project will decrease fish habitat in southwest Wyoming and voice concern for how it might affect a nearby fishery.

Green River Mayor Hank Castillon said the city is opposed to the project.

Castillon said losing water from the gorge will negatively impact tourism, which will impact the local economy.

Rock Springs Mayor Tim Kaumo said the water is needed locally as well.

"We have an airport that does not have a water line to it. We haul water to the airport," Kaumo said. "We have water needs right here."

Sweetwater County Commissioner Chairman Debby Dellai-Boese urged local residents to contest the pipeline until the end.

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Information from: Rock Springs Rocket-Miner

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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