No on A: Building more dams won’t make it rain |

No on A: Building more dams won’t make it rain

Ken Neubecker

At first blush Referendum A almost makes sense. Under scrutiny, however, the whole thing falls apart. Proponents make several claims that simply don’t hold water, nor do they “save” Colorado’s water.

First, they claim that because of the drought we need more storage. Storage is not the problem. Lack of precipitation is the problem. We have plenty of water storage. Building more empty reservoirs will not make water fall from the sky.

Second, they say we are losing “our” water to California. No, we aren’t. We cannot “lose” our water to California. The Colorado River Compact guarantees that. Our water will always be there when we need it.

Third, they say we need to store more water to benefit the environment, wildlife habitat and recreation. Referendum A’s primary goal is to remove water from the stream and most likely send it to the Front Range.

Referendum A is no friend to wildlife, recreation or the streams that the water comes from.

Proponents claim the water projects that Referendum A funds will pay for themselves. Bonds and partnerships with “other interests” will foot the bill.

“Other interests” is a phrase meaning private water speculators. Referendum A will allow these private water speculators to use public money to build their projects. Private speculators have a history of going bankrupt after pocketing huge profits. Putting profiteering water speculators in charge of $2 billion of public money with a $4 billion payback is not too reassuring. It’s like trusting Enron with our state’s energy future.

Referendum A requires that two projects be presented by the Colorado Water Conservation Board to the governor in 2004, and that one of these will be chosen for construction. It sounds like someone already has something in mind. The public is distinctly uninvited from the process. The proponents of Referendum A don’t want us to see any project until we write out the check.

Water has always been a matter of concern and a bone of contention in Colorado. We have used ingenious systems of law and engineering to help us live as we will in this dry land. Some of these systems have worked well, others have not.

Referendum A is another of these, and is fatally flawed. Building more dams will not make it rain. Writing blank checks for unknown projects will hardly ensure water for Colorado’s future. The drought is being used as a scare tactic.

Gov. Bill Owens seem to have forgotten what a depressing bowl of mud and dust most of the major reservoirs became last year. We do not need to waste public money building more mud holes. We have ample means for financing and building storage when we need it and when nature makes the water available.

Referendum A is a shell game, asking us to pay up before seeing if anything is under the shell. We don’t even get to pick the shell we look under.

We don’t need the shell, we don’t need what’s under it and we certainly don’t need the game that is being played on us.

” Ken Neubecker of Eagle is the northwest regional vice president for Colorado Trout Unlimited and on the board of TU’s local Ferdinand Hayden Chapter.

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