LETTERS | Week of Feb. 27


Correction: A Feb. 20 article, “Colorado grappling with greenhouse gas inventory,” incorrectly characterized the amount of greenhouse gas cuts needed to avert catastrophic climate impacts. According to city of Boulder environmental planner Brett KenCairn, global cuts of 80 percent are needed by the year 2050 to avoid the worst-case global warming scenarios.

Get real on water, Paul

Your Feb. 21 opinion piece (“How to increase Colorado’s water supply,” Danish Plan) suggesting the way to increase and perhaps “drought-proof ” Colorado’s water supply was to have California build desalination plants and then use that water while Colorado in turn used at least some of the Colorado River supply that California would then give up was very interesting, but, in my opinion, not very realistic.

This idea has been considered by all the basin states for years, but the chances of it being successfully implemented are pretty low. There are, as you note, daunting legal, environmental and economic barriers to implementing such a program. And do you really think California is going to willingly spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build and operate ocean desal plants, deal with the environmental impacts of such plants, and blithely charge its citizens much, much more for their water so Coloradans can continue to use cheap water? I don’t think so, either. The idea of building desal plants in Mexico, and having them use that water in lieu of some of their Colorado River allocation has also been discussed. While the regulatory issues here aren’t as difficult, they still exist.

Perhaps some day, despite the huge obstacles these proposals face, they may become reality. But before that happens, I think states will have to look at other options to address their future water needs, options such as increased conservation, more in-state water exchanges, even in-state water reclamation and reuse plants. It is good to look at the future, but I’m always a bit amazed that the most difficult option seems to be the one most people look to to address near-term problems.

Finally, I’d like to note that your statement that “Under the Colorado River Compact of 1922, which allocated the water among the seven states in the Colorado River Basin and Mexico, …” is not correct. The Colorado River Compact did not allocate water to any individual state, or to Mexico. The lower basin states (Nevada, Arizona and California) were allocated water under the Boulder Canyon Project Act of 1928; Mexico’s allocation was established in the Mexican Water Treaty of 1944; and individual allocations to the upper basin states (Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico) were made through the Upper Basin Colorado Compact of 1948.

Robert Walsh/Henderson, Nev.

Regarding Paul Danish’s idea to increase Colorado’s water supply by using desalinization, he fails to note a crucial difference between California and Israel, which uses Mediterranean Sea water. California must use Pacific Ocean water that is rapidly being contaminated with radioactive waste from the Fukushima meltdowns. Massive sea life die-offs are just the beginning of this problem, as the U.S. government refuses to monitor the situation, pretending that ignorance is bliss. That desalinization does not remove radiation is tragically attested by the crew of the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, who became ill with ghastly symptoms of radiation poisoning after drinking desalinated water off the coast off Fukushima right after the tsunami wrecked the power plant. While Danish’s idea is clever, I doubt that Californians are willing to glow in the dark so Coloradans can stay hydrated.

Menachem Mevashir/via email

Paul Danish proposes a hugely expensive and complicated way to increase Colorado’s water supply with desalination of sea water, transported from California yet!

May I suggest a tried-and-true, cheaper alternative: conservation. An example is San Antonio, Texas, which reduced its consumption from 225 gallons per person per day in the early ’80s, to under 140 g/ppd currently. (And there are many pools as well as a long, hot watering season there.)

Interventions included high-efficiency toilets and urinals (these were distributed free to hundreds of thousands of citizens) numerous public education and email initiatives, a tiered billing system which placed high levies on high water use, rebates/incentives for efficient (drip) watering systems or native plant landscaping, and more.

Simple education programs can raise awareness of water waste. Those who are profligate users can pay a premium for their excess consumption. It beats spending a half billion dollars.

Larry Frayne/via email

Highway 36 flap

What ever happened to the best bid system where government awards construction contracts to the lowest bidder?

Instead of bidding to do the work on U.S. 36, Goldman Sachs is “partnering” with the government (you and I).

This apparently had to be done behind closed doors because the general public is either too stupid, or maybe too smart, to want to deal with the underpinnings of high finance. This clandestine deal will result in the public paying a multiplier of the actual cost while being inconvenienced for decades with delays at the tollgate or time spent writing checks for endless toll bills. Partnering with banks always means we pay the money and they make the money. Why don’t we offer the general public the same deal? We all would pay an annual state or sales tax surcharge to finance the project and after it is completed we will all enjoy a nice tax rebate for several decades. I know, it’s too simple!

Tom Lopez/Longmont

Cop stop

As a word of warning to anyone going to CHARM or ReSource on East Arapahoe, the police are issuing tickets (rather than give warnings) if one continues in the right-hand lane as one passes 63rd Street. And the fine is $125 and a possible 3 points on one’s license. So much for “Serve and Protect.”

Robert Porath/Boulder