That proposal isn't harmless from a boater-centric world view. Depending on from where this would pull the water, multi-day canyon trips could be seriously affected. Flaming Gorge is currently required to release a minimum of 800 cfs through the summer, which provides just barely enough to run raft trips down Lodore and Desolation during dry years. If you start sucking 200,000 acre-feet out of Browns Park, those runs become impassable in a raft. If you release more from Flaming Gorge to meet the draw, the lake will drop too much for the houseboat industry to keep running. Less water will flow into Lake Powell, too, keeping levels down and preventing those houseboats from cruising. So the lost recreation revenue is one counter to the plan.
More pertinent, perhaps, is the "Law of the River." When the Colorado River Compact (CRC) was written, the lower basin states got first dibs on the water. It was mentioned in the article that during a dry year, California could put a "call" to the upper basin, and upper basin use would get shut off. Had the 04-05 snowpack not been above average, Lake Powell would have drained enough to force a call (it reached ~30% before that spring's run-off). The seven states basically held their breath and prayed, so there is still no drought allocation system in place. Since the CRC allocates more water than is actually in the system, the "extra" water flowing down the Green is what has prevented CO & UT to face up to their under-allocation.
If the Front Range wants to keep growing (please don't
), it's time to embrace water use the Las Vegas way: pay people to tear up their Kentucky Bluegrass
In the last few years, Vegas has added something like 200,000 people and is using LESS water than before! Time for Denver to follow the lead...