From My Window… Dams needed in county and other locations in the West

Sean McMahon, Editor
Sean McMahon, Editor
It looks like there is eventually going to be a new dam in Rio Blanco County’s future. And that is likely to cause a torrent of criticism from the environmental factors in the county, the state and the nation.
Time after time, the need has been shown for more water throughout the West and time after time those same objectors to any new dams have jumped up from behind the cactus to attack the idea.

The most ridiculous proposal I have heard in the past decade is being driven by the Sierra Club to remove Lake Powell and Glen Canyon Dam and return it to its previous status a just a part of the flowing Colorado River.
That is great in theory if water wasn’t at such a premium. But the last thing the Western U.S. needs is to eliminate one of the biggest dams in the West.
Arizona is in drought, Nevada is in drought, parts of Utah and Colorado are in drought, so let’s get rid of one of our most significant dams/recreation sites and we will be making this world a better place. Hardly!
Few dams have been constructed in the past 30 years in the West, and it is time to start again to build up watersheds for the future — to meet the needs of the growth moving to the West and to meet the needs that could become apparent if we continue along the lines of what already has become a 10-year drought in many parts of the West.
I know of no other way to meet those needs than with a new dam in Rio Blanco County and, most likely, other places throughout the West. It is obvious that siltation is having a profound effect on Kenney Reservoir, which would cost roughly $700 million to dredge, and there is no known location near the facility to move the siltation debris.
If one has been to Denver in the past 10 to 12 years, it is pretty obvious how low Dillon Reservoir has been at times.
If one has visited either Lake Powell or Lake Mead in the past 10 years, it is pretty obvious how low these lakes still are at present, although hopefully this year’s runoff will help along the Colorado River.
We do need more dams, and if it takes at least 10 to 12 years to bring a new dam on line, then it is not too soon to start the planning.
We in Rio Blanco County have two reasonably good years via snowpack. But what about those years when we don’t have a good winter — as recently as the winter of 2011-2012?
A serious prognostication made within the past five years is that Lake Mead could run nearly dry in the next 15 years. As a witness to that lake level taking a dive in the last decade, I don’t believe that is an out-of-touch with reality idea.
The good news, as was announced within the past two weeks, is that the Colorado River is once again flowing, all the way to the Gulf of California for the first time in ages. But can that be a relied-upon reality.
The experts say no. It will come and go with the runoff.
I say, let’s get to building more dams, increasing the surface water and increasing the recreation area and making the West an ideal place in which to settle for decades if not centuries to come.
What we have now will not sustain the growth the West is experiencing, and it seems foolish to delay the inevitable.

We are now into the summer tourist season in Rio Blanco County.
How do I know?
There is some major event of some kind planned for nearly every weekend from this coming weekend with the Old Timer’s Picnic and Meekerpalooza up until Labor Day weekend with Rangely’s Septemberfest.
There are many scheduled events in Meeker and Rangely this summer.
The weekend of June 14 features the White River Community Association’s annual Fish Fry fundraiser for the Buford School at Buford and it is also Meeker Youth Fishing Day.
From June 18 through July 4 is the Plein Air Meeker event in which artists from all parts of Colorado and surrounding states come to Meeker/Rio Blanco County to paint, sketch, pencil draw, etc., live natural outdoor scenes in the area, culminating with the Meeker Range Call events over the Fourth of July in Meeker.
There are also the Rio Blanco County Fair at the fairgrounds in Meeker, the Meeker Classic Sheepdog Trials, and, in Rangely, Septemberfest’s multi-day festivities to be held all around Rangely.
Needless to say, there are very few reasons to be bored this summer, not to mention the fishing, rafting, hiking, off-road riding, horseback riding, golfing and good old-fashioned sightseeing if it has been a while since you have visited the county’s back roads.

I witnessed Monday morning what could have been “just one of those” horrible accidents, involving a woman and what was obviously a local child about the age of 10 trying to get across the street.
The child waited until the car came to within 25 feet when he stepped off the block into the street and took about two steps. The approaching car missed that child by about a half inch, and that was obviously only because the woman caught the movement of the child just before the two would have collided.
School is out now all across Rio Blanco County and there are elementary, middle and high school students on the streets.
They are walking, riding bicycles or skateboards and driving cars, often headed into parts unnoticed or uncared about.
Please, drivers, keep your eyes on the sides of the roads ahead of you and keep your eyes open to the sudden appearance of small child just ahead of you.
It would be great if no such accidents like that happened at all this summer, but if you are involved in a similar type of accident, I can assure you, you will wish you had kept a better eye out.