Another water rights battle rages on in Colorado. As the Front Range’s population grows, it is Denver Water’s responsibility to make sure residents have enough flow to run their dishwashers. To satisfy the demand, Denver Water is looking at the threatened Fraser River, sixty percent of which is already diverted to the Front Range. The utility company plans to take an additional fifty percent of what remains in the coming years.
The Fraser pours off the north side of Berthoud Pass and travels 30 miles to where it meets the Colorado River near Granby. It holds a mix of wild trout, has good public access in National Forest lands beyond the town of Winter Park, and the ongoing fight for its water is a familiar story—other than the usual characters involved have taken unexpected stances.
Trout Unlimited and American Rivers support the ramped up dewatering plan. The two groups cite a compromise in which Denver Water has agreed to protect what’s left of the Fraser. WildEarth Guardians takes a less moderate stance, claiming that there won’t be any river to protect if the plan goes ahead.
Colorado Public Radio reported on this story. Reporter Nathaniel Minor covered the views of all the players involved.
Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.