"Big Straw" a bad idea for Colorado | PostIndependent.com

"Big Straw" a bad idea for Colorado

Joe Mollica

Dear Editor,

The present drought situation in Colorado has caused the Front Range communities to start scrambling for methods to replenish their dwindling water supply. One proposed project that will directly affect us on the Western Slope of Colorado is “The Big Straw.”

It is my understanding that this pipeline will be designed to pump 1,400 cfs (cubic feet per second) of water from the Colorado River near the Colorado/Utah border. “The Big Straw” will then bisect the Western Slope all the way back up to the Continental Divide and pump water into other diversion units feeding the Front Range.

“The Big Straw” which is now being considered by the state Legislature is a bad idea from both an economic and natural conservation viewpoint. There are also much more practical alternatives. First of all, this project is estimated to cost a minimum of $5 billion (equal to what it cost to build Denver International Airport) just to construct; and who knows how much to maintain and operate in the future. All this during a time when private citizens, cities, states, and the nation as a whole, are trying to cut spending and balance their budgets.

From a natural conservation point of view, “The Big Straw” would have to be constructed through both private and public lands and possibly a national monument. Acquisition of rights of way and damages to the landscape would have to be mitigated, and their costs are surely going to be high.

In addition, “The Big Straw” also has the potential to destroy the Colorado River ecosystem from Ruby, Horsethief and Westwater canyons all the way through to Moab, Utah, by lowering the water flows to a mere trickle. I have explored these canyons extensively, and they are an outstanding favorite to hikers, bikers, and boaters. The Colorado River and its canyons also provide business opportunities to many rafting companies located in both the Grand Junction and the Moab communities.

A far better approach for the Front Range communities to take in resolving their water supply problems would be to:

1. Reinforce and deepen for water volume storage the existing reservoir systems near the headwaters of the Rockies.

2. Consider constructing long-term water storage facilities on the plains of eastern Colorado that could be filled during high runoff and held in reserve for future needs.

3. Increase water conservation efforts from all Colorado citizens at this time of water shortage.

The Western Slope already provides the Front Range communities with high amounts of water through diversions already in place. For the reasons stated above I believe the “Big Straw Project” is a very bad idea for all of Colorado, and I encourage all citizens to talk to their elected officials about this proposed project and its ramifications.

Joe Mollica

Glenwood Springs


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