Friday, December 14, 2012

Will the Missouri River be the Next Colorado River?

The Bureau of Reclamation and the seven states that are part of the Colorado River Compact (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming) announced a proposal for a pipeline to carry water from the Missouri River to the western states.  The very preliminary proposal suggests a pipeline beginning near Leavenworth, Kansas, to Denver, Colorado.  It would take 30 year to build at a price of more than $11 billion, not to mention the energy bills for pumping the water and the constant operational and maintenance costs.

Infrastructure Watch does not abound with opinions as much as do some other blogs, but since we are based in Missouri, you would be right to guess we have an opinion on this.  The states and communities along the Missouri River have enough water resources problems of their own.  They’ve already been battling over use of the river, and the aquifers that have made the Midwest a great producer of grain are already showing signs of overuse.  If we’re teetering on the edge of a water crisis, we don’t have the resources to bail out the West.  Because the lower Mississippi River gets a significant amount of flow from the Missouri River, those states may have a few things to say about it, too.

We don’t mind seeing the west grow.  We just don’t want to be the Owens Valley to their Los Angeles.  If the Bureau of Reclamation has the vision to imagine a spectacular pipeline, maybe they should envision the problems it will cause and its eventual failure.  We need to get real about the water we have, when and where we have it, wherever we are.

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