If you like peaches, oppose the $2 billion Ref. A | SummitDaily.com
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If you like peaches, oppose the $2 billion Ref. A

Gary Lindstrom

To me it is about peaches. Great big wet, slimy sweet peaches – the kind you can buy in the store about this time of the year, the kind you can go outdoors and eat and let the juice run down your chin onto your shirt and nobody cares because they taste so good.

That is what water means to me this time of year.

In recent polls, water is the No. 1 issue on the minds of our citizens. The recent drought has had a trashing effect on our residents. They did not think about water until their lawns started drying up.

The No. 2 issue is the economy and jobs. Water is so crucial to both. Our No. 1 source of economic strength in Colorado is agriculture. No. 2 is tourism. On the Western Slope, it is a toss-up. They are so closely tied together. Great peaches and having fun in water.

It is not like the old saying, “whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting” in Colorado. It is not really a political issue.

It is what makes us a sustainable Colorado. It is the lifeblood of our wonderful place in the universe. To emphasize my point, let’s take a trip with the water of the Blue River as it starts in Summit County and ends in the Gulf of California in Mexico.

It snows and the snow is stored on the tops of the mountains near Hoosier Pass. One of the first places it is collected is in the city of Colorado Springs’ collection system in and near Blue Lakes in McDill Placer in the south of the county.

Through a series of tunnels, it is transported to Montgomery Reservoir on the other side of Hoosier Pass above Alma and Fairplay, just off Highway 9.

The high reservoirs are not tourist attractions and do not conflict with the natural environment. They are ways of creating wildlife habitat and riparian wetlands. They are normally hard to get to and you have to hike in to many of them.

What water is not siphoned off to the south heads north to the Goose Pasture Tarn and the Maggie Pond. There it is used by the town of Breckenridge and the Breckenridge Ski Resort for domestic use and snowmaking.

Snowmaking is not the evil that some people believe it is. Snowmaking is actually a way to store water in the form of snow on the side of the mountain waiting for spring and the runoff.

It is now a source of recreation with the addition of the new whitewater kayak park near the Breckenridge Recreation Center.

What water is not consumed at that point flows north to the trout habitat in the Blue River for about six miles before the Dillon Reservoir. Dillon Reservoir is the largest water storage project for the city of Denver.

It is also a huge recreation and economic generator for Summit County. This past year demonstrated the importance of having a full reservoir.

From Dillon through Silverthorne to Green Mountain Reservoir we have a Gold Medal trout stream and catch and release along the rest of the stretch. What a great place to fish. How important is it to keep water in the river? Ask any trout fisherman.

Green Mountain Reservoir has a strange purpose. It stores water for other purposes. It works like a bank. When the bank is full, Summit County and the people in Heeney benefit. When it is empty we go broke in that part of the county. It is also a way of producing electricity for the federal government that ends up costing us fewer taxes. (Hey, that is what they say. You figure it out.)

Wolford Reservoir is a modern miracle, not in its construction but a miracle when you think of the people who had to get together to put wet water in the bucket. Denver Water, the Colorado River Conservation Project and the Northern Water Conservancy District all worked together.

From that point on it is water city. Lots of rafting. Lots of fishing. Lots of peaches. Besides rafting and fishing, most of the water from Kremmling down to the Utah state line is used for agriculture.

A lot of the water irrigates meadows and grows some crops. A lot of water makes the fruit orchards in the Grand Valley possible.

You know the rest of the story. Lake Powell is one of the top destinations for people from Summit County to go boating and camping. The water goes into the Grand Canyon where national and international guests all have to go at least once in their lives. 

Then it goes to Lake Mead to power Hoover Dam and to provide water for Las Vegas and much of California. It eventually ends up in Arizona for domestic water supplies and finally in the Imperial Valley, where it waters lettuce we eat every night with dinner. 

That is why we need to defeat State of Colorado Referendum A (Not to be confused with Summit County Referendum 1A that I support).

That is why we need a plan before we decide what water we need to store and where we need to store it. That is why the citizens of the Western Slope of Colorado need to be a part of this decision and why we must not leave it up to others who do not have the same interests in our water.

County Commissioner Gary Lindstrom writes a regular Thursday column in the Summit Daily News. He can be reached at garyl@colorado.net.


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