Letter: Kelley discusses dam project position

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ΩDear Editor:
I was glad to announce at the Rangely Networking meeting last Tuesday that I have successfully petitioned onto the ballot as an unaffiliated (independent) candidate for county commissioner. I have attended and participated in those Rangely community meetings at the college for many years—ever since they were first started by former county commissioner Peggy Rector and the president of the college. I have been on the CNCC Foundation Board with Peggy since the turn of the century!
The presentation last week was about the Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District’s (CD) efforts, now focused on their proposed Wolf Creek Reservoir project. As was well reported in last week’s paper by Jen Hill, there are a lot of yet unanswered questions about the project. The preferred dam site and water delivery system themselves have yet to be chosen by the CD board. The costs are uncertain and wide-ranging. Who will pay for the project in the midst of tight budgets and trillion dollar federal deficits is a critical question with a lot of possibilities being mentioned.
After my announcement, I was asked if I supported the project. My response was that I was certainly looking at it, listening and learning. I am very supportive of solving our water supply needs and pursuing economic development for the county. I will not, however, be a pile-on cheerleader—especially when taxpayer dollars are involved. The community dollars and state water money already spent on this project should be answering questions like where are the water rights coming from, at what cost, and whether the recreational use projections really stand up? The presentation last week described the proposed Wolf Creek as a “working,” fluctuating reservoir, with potentially unpredictable water levels. Does that truly make it attractive for recreational use? If we are supporting the Colorado Water Plan’s goal for more water storage on the White River, is this really the best place and the best, most effective, way to do it?
I am also concerned about leaving Kenney Reservoir in the lurch by not preserving at least some of its benefits to the community. Driving by the reservoir last Friday night, on our way back home from the old-timers’ gathering at the Rangely Museum, my wife and I were amazed by the tremendous turn-out of folks on its shores and on the lake, appreciating it, on the edge of town, as a fantastic fireworks venue! More power and congrats to Rangely for such a celebration.
For those of you who would like to know more about the Wolf Creek proposals, last week’s presenters indicated they would send a digital version of their presentation to anyone who requested it. Contact Alden Vanden Brink at al@rioblancowcd.org or call 970-675-5055. They are requesting comment on this by Sept. 14. There’s to be a site tour on Sept 12 (see the news brief on page 3) before the Yampa-White-Green Basin Roundtable meeting that evening.
Generally, I am a cautious and fiscally conservative person. I hope in the few weeks left before this election cycle is over, I will get to know more of you, learn about your perspectives on the county, and that you will learn more of my open, cooperative approach.

Reed Kelley
Unaffiliated Candidate for Rio Blanco County Commissioner