Sunday, October 28, 2007

"Save the Poudre"

I cant say that I'm exactly sure what criteria must be met to be designated Colorado's only "wild and scenic river" but it seems that the Cache la Poudre river is just that. The sad truth is that it loses its splendor and majesty as soon as it leaves the Poudre canyon with 90 percent of its water being diverted near Fort Collins for farming and local residents. With population forecast to expand and the looming possibility of drought there is a water district that wants to divert the remaining 10 percent of the river into two reservoirs.

The 40,000 acre-foot Galeton reservoir, located near Greeley, will be filled by waters from the South Platte River whilst the Glade Reservoir, located near Fort Collins, will have a 170,000 acre-foot capacity and will be filled by the Cache la Poudre. Water conservation authorities claim that these reservoirs are mandatory in order to preserve Colorado's existing agriculture. Water would be provided to 15 water districts on northern Colorado with the 40,000 acre feet contribution of the project. Twenty five thousand acres of farmland will also be preserved by the excess water.

Gary Wokner is an ecologist and a member of a group that opposes the use of Cache la Poudre water, cleverly named, "Save the Poudre." He contends that Colorado can meet its current and future water needs through "conservation and education, coupled with modest improvements in agricultural irrigation efficiency." The municipal planners disagree and state that conservation is not enough to combat Colorado's long term water shortage. It seems that these municipal planners are not taking into account all the economic effects of this kind of action. The local farmers would be well supplied by the entire flow of the Poudre but what of the local wildlife living in and around the river? Is the price of being prepared for supposed coming growth worth the environmental costs necessary? Should a river boasting credentials such as "Colorado's only wild and scenic river" be dammed up for the anticipated population boom of agriculture based communities such as Greeley? I think not but I'm sure the Poudre won't stand in the way of "progress."

1 comment:

Larry Eubanks said...

If you use the idea of efficiency and market failure, how would you approach answering the questions you pose at the end of your post?