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Hi Friends of the Colorado River!


It may end up being one of the hottest, driest summers in Colorado River basin history as scorching temperatures are recorded from Denver all the way to Los Angeles. The river itself is under extreme stress with some of the “lowest flows in history” recorded in the Colorado River and its tributaries. But the dam builders are not slowing down, and so neither is Save The Colorado!

We’ve had a flurry of news coverage over the last month about our fights to stop proposed new dams in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado. Further, as the Colorado River declines, the questions continue to increase about the viability of Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam.

First, Aspen Journalism wrote a story about our lawsuit to stop the proposed “Windy Gap Firming Project” in Colorado which would drain a new nine billion gallons of water directly out of the Colorado River every year. Titled, “Court Battle Continues Over Windy Gap Firming Project“, the story quotes me as saying, “We are just trying to inject some sanity and stop the madness,” said Gary Wockner, director of Save the Colorado, an environmental nonprofit based in Ft. Collins that supports the Colorado River and is the lead petitioner in the case. “The Colorado River is the most dammed, drained, depleted river on the planet.”

Second, Wyofile, a non-profit news agency in Wyoming, wrote two stories about our work in Wyoming to stop proposed new dams and diversions, including the “Fontenelle Dam Expansion” which would take over twenty-five billion gallons out of the Green River every year which is a tributary to the Colorado River. One story titled “As Water Shortages Loom, Wyoming Seeks Water-Bank Bill” quotes me here: “In Fort Collins, a group called Save the Colorado has vowed to fight every new diversion and impoundment in the basin. Gary Wockner, the group’s president, said all entities are in a gold rush. “Everybody’s trying to get while they can still get,” he told WyoFile.

Another story in Wyofile about three projects in the Green River basin titled, “Conflict Looms As Wyoming Seeks More Green River Water“, quotes me here: “Gary Wockner, president of the Save the Colorado conservation group, wants no new dams or diversions in the basin. His group is watchdogging the rip-rap project and two other water-storage efforts in Wyoming — the proposed $80 million dam on the West Fork of Battle Creek and a plan to expand the Big Sandy Reservoir. “We weighed in publicly on all three,” Wockner said in a phone interview from Fort Collins, Colorado. “The Colorado River is already one of the most dammed and diverted rivers. Zero water reaches the sea.”

Third, the Boulder Weekly in Boulder, Colorado, is turning into one of the lead news agencies about the Colorado River chaos. Over the last month, they’ve run three important stories, two of which highlight Save The Colorado’s work.

One, a May 31st Boulder Weekly article titled “Draining The Bathtub: Critics claim Fontenelle project will harm Colorado River Basin” quotes me here, “The Fontenelle Dam riprap would allow them to drain the reservoir and their water rights would allow them to drain it twice per year,” says Gary Wockner, president of Save the Colorado. “We oppose them reengineering this dam so they can drain 150,000 acre-feet of water out of the Green River every year. And that’s what it would give them the opportunity to do.”

Two, the front-page story on May 31st in the Boulder Weekly is an editorial taking direct, critical aim at the Walton Family Foundation (the WalMart heirs) and their funding of environmental groups, scientists, government agencies, and the media in the Colorado River basin. The long column is a good read for an insider’s view of what’s going on, and is titled: “The New Model For Saving The Colorado River Might Just Kill It“. Take a look at this story if you want a deep dive into some of the ‘dirty laundry’ of behind-the-scenes Colorado River motives and funding.

Three, on July 12, the Boulder Weekly printed another long front-page story titled “A Drop In The Bucket: Water Banking Pilot Program Finished, For Now” about the failed effort to save Lake Powell over the last three years. Save The Colorado is quoted heavily in the article because we’ve taken a lead voice in the fight to drain Lake Powell and tear down Glen Canyon Dam. I’m quoted here as saying, “This isn’t a temporary situation, this is ongoing and permanent,” Gary Wockner says. “They still haven’t even gotten remotely close to the root cause of the problem, which is climate change is real and every scientist indicates that it’s going to get worse and that Lake Powell is not sustainable.”

Wherever a proposal is moving forward to further dam, drain, divert, or deplete the river, Save The Colorado is in the face of the dam builders, in the media, in the courtroom, and in the state and federal agency’s eyes. We are an aggressive watchdog for the ecological health of the river — the proposed new dams and diversions must be stopped!

All of this work is made possible by your support! Thank you and stay tuned for more of the action!

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Orders Denver Water to Pollute our Waterways. Greenway Foundation Sues to Stop the Practice

The Greenway Foundation
On April 19, 2018, The Greenway Foundation entered into litigation for the first time in its 44 year mission to Revitalize Rivers and Reconnect Communities.

Since 1974, The Greenway Foundation (TGF) has been a leading force in the resurrection, reclamation and revitalization of the South Platte River and its numerous tributaries. Thanks to the support of everyone reading this appeal and so many more, over the last four decades these priceless urban waterways have evolved from polluted and abandoned eyesores into once again our community’s greatest natural resources. Whether you value over 100 acres of riverside parks and natural areas, 100 + miles of multi-use recreational trails or more than 100,000 linear feet of stream corridors now healthy enough to sustain numerous species of native cold water fish, these vital environmental assets are testimony to the longstanding goal of TGF that “one day, the best place to live, work and play will be along the banks of the South Platte River ”. “One day” is today.

This 20 inch rainbow trout was caught & released by John Davenport on 5/18/2018 from Shoemaker Plaza. It was part of an experimental March 2017 stocking of 14 to 16 inch trout. They have thrived in this stretch of MileHi Stadium- Elitch Gardens – Confluence Park, moving back and forth for food, shelter and cool temperatures. Denver anglers and visitors are enjoying this new catch & release fishery.

But now, a new threat is facing this very Watershed due to a recent mandate by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) requiring Denver Water to add orthophosphates to all of its water supplies. Given the interconnected nature of the metropolitan area’s water and wastewater systems the impacts of this decision are regional, affecting multiple utilities and more specifically our plea to you, we need to protect the precious surface waters and ecosystems in the watershed. CDPHE’s claimed basis for this ill-advised decision, (made without consulting the public , concerned groups or even TGF), is to reduce lead in our community’s drinking water systems – a goal shared by everyone in both the public and private sectors, and TGF. But there are other options!

Orthophosphates do, indeed, control corrosion of lead water pipes but their introduction into water systems also triggers increased algae growth, creating harmful algal blooms (HAB’s) which can be harmful or even toxic to drinking water, body contact, aquatic life, birds, mammals and beyond. There are other water treatment measures that also help control levels of lead in drinking systems, including pH adjustment, without the potentially deadly counter effect involved with the use of orthophosphates. Moreover, the introduction of orthophosphates as the treatment method, once implemented, is irreversible. Thus, the damage to the watershed will be continuous and also irreversible.

Despite numerous appeals to CDPHE from TGF, Denver Water, Aurora Water, the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District and many other related public entities to enter into a collaborative discussion of this critical matter, CDPHE unilaterally initiated this ill-advised mandate.

Therefore, at the June, 2018 Meeting of TGF’s Board of Directors, the Board Members instructed my office to take legal action in District Court, asking the Court to issue a stay involving the decision to require the use of orthophosphates in drinking water. We are joined in this litigation by Aurora Water and Metro Wastewater Reclamation District. It is important to note that this is the first time that TGF has ever been involved in litigation of any kind in its 44 year history. TGF’s longstanding approach to doing business in serious matters of this nature has always been to “cooperate and collaborate instead of legislate and litigate”. Cooperative approaches were offered to CDPHE in this critical matter to no avail.

TGF and the other parties involved in this matter are ready to voluntarily and immediately request that the court stay the current legal proceedings if CDPHE will, in turn, issue a stay regarding their decision to mandate use of orthophosphates in our drinking water system. Collaboration can, indeed, triumph over litigation. This offer has been made directly and repeatedly to CDPHE as well as to the office of the Governor of Colorado, including this letter to Governor Hickenlooper that was sent to the Governor by my office last week on Thursday, June 7th. Again, to no avail.

Everyone reading this appeal is strongly encouraged to reach out to the Governor’s office as well. The Governor has the unilateral authority to issue the requested stay of CDPHE’s decision.

Reducing lead in service lines is a goal shared by all. That stated, CDPHE needs to re-evaluate its decision involving the addition of orthophosphates as a means of achieving this goal and, instead, select other effective treatment measures that to do not adversely and permanently harm our watersheds and reservoirs. The Greenway Foundation is firmly dedicated to engaging with anyone and everyone to see this goal evolve to reality. However, as long as CDPHE’s decision involving the use of orthophosphates remains in place, TGF’s unwanted but unavoidable leadership in the related litigation measures will remain in place.

I welcome any and all questions, thoughts, suggestions regarding this critical issue. I will periodically post related updates as this matter moves forward.

As always, your support of The Greenway Foundation is greatly appreciated!

Jeff Shoemaker

Executive Director
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