Common sense leaking from Big Straw
The Colorado Water Conservation Board is spending a half million bucks to study a very silly idea called the Big Straw.
The idea is to build a pipeline from the Colorado River as it crosses the Utah state line to the Continental Divide to carry unused water to thirsty and growing Front Range cities.
It makes about as much sense as towing polar icebergs to Los Angeles.
But since a majority of our esteemed state legislators agreed to study this ridiculous concept, formally called the Colorado River Return Reconnaissance Study, let’s hope we get some solid answers to a boatload of nagging questions.
Where would the pipeline go? The most direct route is back up alongside the Colorado River, running right through Garfield County, Glenwood Springs and Glenwood Canyon. Another route runs up the Gunnison River, and a third runs up the White River.
Any way it goes, the environmental impacts and right of way acquisition issues would be huge.
How much energy would be needed to pump water more than 150 miles east and up at least 5,000 vertical feet? Are we prepared to burn more coal or natural gas to make water flow uphill?
Where would the water be stored? Should we flood another river valley to create a reservoir the size of Ruedi?
What are the costs for purifying and cooling the salty and turbid water?
What happens in a severe drought year, like 2002, when Colorado could not meet its legal obligations to send water to downstream states? The Big Straw could not deliver water at the time expectations would run the highest.
Who pays for the darn thing, both to build it and to keep it running?
A half million dollars is a lot to study how to counteract gravity, especially when the state is making painful budget cuts. But it should be a hoot seeing the answers.
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