Wilhelm column: A strong commitment to protecting our water | PostIndependent.com

Wilhelm column: A strong commitment to protecting our water

Colin Wilhelm
Guest Opinion

The Colorado River and its tributaries provide water to 35 million people and more than 4 million acres of farmland in a region encompassing some 246,000 square miles. Our rivers are the lifeblood of the Western Slope and might just be our most precious resource. We use it to live, to play and to sustain our economy.

Your state House of Representatives must lead the way in protecting our watershed.

Currently, our rivers are in danger. The White River has an algae bloom at it headwaters, there is a proposal to divert a huge amount of water to the Front Range from the Green River and we are in the middle of a 20-year drought. Due to the dry winter that we experienced this year, we are headed into a potentially bad summer in terms of water levels.

The federal government has allocated funds to study the algae bloom in the White River. It is unlikely that there is a single cause of the algae bloom; it is more likely that there are multiple causes that will require your state government’s action act to correct.

The state will need to step up and invest more money and action to prevent and mitigate any algae growth and damages while making sure that it does not reach the Colorado.

As for the Green River, a graduate student at Colorado State University named Aaron Million has proposed a plan that would divert 55,000 acre feet from the Green River to the Front Range. This is about half the capacity of Ruedi Reservoir. Mr. Million claims that this project would just be diverting “surplus” water that isn’t being used.

However, amid a major drought, how do we know this water is “surplus”? He filed his claim in Utah, but this project would affect both Utah and Colorado. Colorado General Assembly members on both sides of the aisle oppose this plan. Colorado must work with Utah and negotiate preventative measures to make sure this plan does not come to be.

As your representative, I will lead the fight to protect the rivers of the Western Slope. Our waterways are all interconnected. Our waterways supply our drinking water, our agricultural water and our summer fun. We must fight to protect this precious resource.

Colin Wilhelm is running for House District 57, which includes Garfield, Rio Blanco and Moffat counties. He can be reached via email at colinwilhelmforcolorado@yahoo.com or at 970-930-1209.

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