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Old 09-15-2011   #41
Erie, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 67
Originally Posted by basil View Post
Wrong. 80% of water on the Front Range goes to farmers.
This number may very well be correct. However, the water that "goes to farmers" is misleading in that it combines both crop irrigation and golf course irrigation.

Since the crop irrigation and the irrigation of golf courses are not broken out, there was a study that estimated Colorado golf course water use for the year 2005. Below are some of the results from the study.

Golf courses irrigated 2.27 feet of water per acre, with a total usage of 56,184 acre-feet.

The source or the water used:
Surface water usage: 36,881 acre-feet
Ground water usage: 8,658 acre-feet
Public supply water usage: 4,484 acre-feet
Grey water usage: 6,160 acre-feet


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Old 09-15-2011   #42
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,302
Basil, perhaps you should have shown up to the meeting with the correct data and explained to the board that you would prefer that the project go through so that you have less water in the Colorado River and more on the Front Range. Some folks did. Statistics can be factual or skewed bullshit, but the scope of this discussion focuses on diverting water or not.

Ian, I like your points. I agree that it is a zero sum game.

Having lived in Colorado on both sides of the divide, and having family ties that deal with both residential and rural water rights (though not agricultural) I feel like I can see a few sides to this argument. Living in Denver, as a direct recipient of more water if Gross were to go through, I would benefit through more guaranteed economic growth presumably. However, my neighbors and I have plenty of water (our lawn is dead but we have a few plants), and there is plenty of water to go around. There are two golf courses nearby. Denver is not facing a water shortage at this time, and much can be done to conserve more water that what we already are, or utilize it better with urban gardens over kentucky bluegrass. Denver is facing an inability to continue growing at the pace it has because we would run out of water. Being one of the largest city's not located on a major river this was inevitable. We already have an extensive diversion system in place, and it already takes a lot of water from the western rivers.
Growing up in Grand Junction, it was evident that the place has an extensive system of canals, the majority of which seem gravity fed, and with tons of irrigation water to flow through the valley. The green trees grow where there is irrigation, and the arid desert is just beyond that line. It's relatively efficient use of river water that makes a relatively short deviation from the river.
Contrast this with Denver and you are talking about a lot of pumps and extensive piping to get the water to where it needs to be at a huge financial cost to negatively effect the western rivers. I don't believe it makes sense for Denver to build themselves out of their water dilema by creating more diversions. Gross Reservoir may be a better alternative than the flaming gorge pipeline, but they are both temporary fixes to achieve the stupid idea of huge urban growth along the arid front range.
I would rather see the money that goes towards huge projects like the Gross Dam project go towards public transit projects along the I-70 corridor (advanced rail), and encourage growth (assuming population growth is inevitable) across the state of Colorado where the water is already located. But those are other ideas.

Beyond just flat out opposing the project, there are some things that could be done better. Although the statistics are contradictory, the amount of trucking that this will create along Hwy 72 is somewhere in the range of 1 truck every 3-5 minutes (assuming business hours), for 5 years. They are doing some slow consideration of alieviating this by using the rail road. It seems that if the project isn't going to pay for improvements on Hwy 72, then they should be moving the majority of the materials via train to the road above the dam.

Kyle McCutchen
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Old 09-15-2011   #43
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,097
I spoke with one of the Denver Water Operations guys about gross expansion. I'll relate what he told me (not supporting their claims, just relaying information to help inform)

He noted that Denver Water has a fairly large water right on the Fraser river but that they don't have much storage capacity in gross to store water for drought years. In 2002 denver water came very close to running out of water in gross and if that happens, that could leave the north end of the metro area without water in just a single bad drought year. While the project may be an enabler for growth, Denver Water see's it as a fix to a serious vulnerability in their current supply.

Another comment he made was that extra water would be brought over from the fraser in wet years, but that they wouldn't bring more water over in dry years. He pointed out that their water rights and tunnel capacity are in the 900-1000 cfs range. In wet years (like this year) they can bring that much water through the moffat tunnel, and indeed they did this year. In dry years, when the fraser doesn't even flow over 900 cfs, denver water will not be able to exercise the full water right and will leave in stream flows in the river. In 2002 denver water brought over about 300 cfs peak flow through the tunnel.

Denver water's concept is to add storage in gross reservoir so that it can store water in wet years and have the storage to make it through a drought year so that they won't run out of water for the northern part of the city.

Denver water also projects a supply gap as early as 2016 that the project is supposed to help address.

From my perspective...

I've spoken with some folks who have been around for a long time who have a pragmatic view, and they think gross is the best option with the given that 1) denver water already has the rights to the water and thats not going to change, and 2) denver water will develop additional supply within its capacity to keep up with growth. You may be able to stop gross, but you won't likely be able to stop denver water developing additional supplies.

The bigger arguements about total population size in desert communities or long term agricultural needs are tough issues that require a much larger perspective and longer term thinking that most politicians and planners are doing now. I hope that changes in the future.

One thing I see neglected in this discussion is opportunity. As part of Denver Waters proposal they know that they have to mitigate impacts. They are proposing to give boulder storage in gross to provide instream flows for south boulder creek below gross reservoir. From what I read thats really just tiny flows in the late summer / fall so the creek doesn't dry up completely. What's absent from the discussion is mitigation for recreational flows. This is the perfect opportunity to point out that recreational whitewater opportunities on USB and the Fraser can be negatively impacted by the project and the the project should consider mitigations like planned releases on south boulder creek below gross, or planned flows on the fraser where denver water would shut off the moffat tunnel during peak flows to let peak flows flush the fraser and provide fraser river runners the opportunity to experience high flows.

How does this type of negotiation happen? One way is American whitewater. Right now there are too many issues for the limited AW staff (1.5 staff in CO right now) to tackle all of them, but increased AW membership in CO could help drive more CO projects. Join AW to help increase AW's CO presence. CO will continue to face issues like this for the forseeable future, and we need to develop the long term AW staff to help us with the fight.

Just my two cents...
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Old 09-15-2011   #44
jonny water's Avatar
Geologist, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 583

Very informative and fairly unbiased post. It's easy to jump on the band wagon thinking that all dams are bad, but we need to consider all points of views before condemning anything!
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Old 09-15-2011   #45
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Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,911
I don't know details of the Gross reservoir area topography or alternate damsites but as a hydrologist I've got a few of thoughts on the matter after reading Ian's post above:

1) Denver Water's set on adding additional storage and its doubtful we'll be able to stop it from happening somewhere on the Front Range - impacts will occur no matter where an alternate dam is built. These could include drowning a good run in some other canyon.

2) Gross is in the foothills where evaporation losses are likely much less and the canyon steeper than an alternate lower-elevation damsite. Building a dam for DW's additional storage in flatter terrain at a lower elevation would result in more water surface area in a hotter environment, thus higher evaporation losses for the amount of water stored resulting in less water available to use, and the need to pull even more water from the Fraser/Colorado Basins to meet the same need on the Front Range.

3) One thing Gross has in its favor is that there's already a dam there, along with all the other infrastructure for conveyance structures. The area needed for another dam for the equivalent additional storage would likely be greater than the additional area for the Gross expansion, resulting in greater overall loss of habitat somewhere else. Additionally water conveyance infrastructure would need to be built in what I assume are currently pristine areas resulting in further environmental impacts.

If DW's going to build a dam somewhere, it may be that the Gross expansion is actually the lowest-impact and most efficient way to store water. Personally I'd like to see aquifer storage and recovery used but the northern part of DW's service area isn't well-suited for that geologically.

Throw some recreational flows into the mix and it could be a reasonable project and a relative win for Front Range boaters compared to an alternative that DW would want.

Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 09-15-2011   #46
Silverthorne, Colorado
Paddling Since: 04
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 22
Heyduke lives! Just a bunch of red tape, stuffed shirt propaganda. Apparently there are only a few spines left in the boating community these days. Too bad. I'm with RPM
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Old 09-15-2011   #47
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 646
I'm all for conserving water and limiting growth. I wish everyone's third child could be forced to move to Texas at age 18.

Instead of bringing water to Denver where people use 86 gallons/day, let's just force people to move to the mountains or Grand Junction and let them use their 110 gallons/day. There's also more land there to build golf courses.

It would be a shame if they built a dam at the bottom of Foxton & Deckers runs.
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Old 09-15-2011   #48
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 2,239
So you are belittling Foxton and Deckers boating value and thus their boaters ?You think they are lame so intermediates and beginners around metro Denver and C.Spgs. can piss off ? You've had some great posts /positions and some bad.' don't get this one.

In regards to Two Forks ,isn't there some deal that expires soon and they could try to pursue it again ? How far up the respective forks would it flood again? thanx
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Old 09-16-2011   #49
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 646
Part of my post was sarcastic, but not the part about Foxton. I love that stretch. I'm just trying to get people to think and not take life too seriously.

By the way, some of our best runs are dam feed. Gore, Ark, and Bailey
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Old 09-16-2011   #50
Park City, Utah
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 700
I'm with Andy

If were going to dam it, dam it high. If we could find an economical way to refill aquifers, it would solve so many problems. A few of you young engineers, I smell a thesis that is ripe for grant money.

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