The Cache La Poudre River Is Our Swimmin’ Hole

The Poudre Butts Poster

Today we went on a long walk and picnic-ed on a sandy beach on the river to soak up some of that sun and fresh air and negative ions and general all-around goodness that comes from rivers and such. I gotta say, we live a charmed life…

Our river is in big demand from all different segments of our community, from kayakers and tubers to farmers, dog walkers and developers. One point of contention is the belief that we should be pushing growth and providing for future water needs with a dam on this river.

From American Rivers :

Cache la Poudre among America’s Most Endangered Rivers Misguided Water Diversion Plan could Drain the River
Washington—Colorado’s only Wild and Scenic River could soon lose much of its remaining water thanks to a scheme proposed by some decision makers to unnecessarily divert billions of gallons of water away from the Cache la Poudre. Such action could cripple Fort Collins, which has christened the river as one of the town’s “economic engines.” Facing problems like these, it’s no wonder the Cache la Poudre has been named one of America’s Most Endangered Rivers. “Waste not, want not was one of the first lessons all of us learned growing up, but it’s a maxim that some government officials seem to have forgotten” said Rebecca Wodder, President of American Rivers. “While Colorado is facing some serious problems when it comes to water scarcity, draining the Poudre dry simply isn’t the solution.” The proposed Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) would cost homeowners and taxpayers almost a billion dollars, and subject residents and future generations to the debt for 30 years. NISP would divert a staggering 36 million gallons of water a day away from the river before it reaches Fort Collins, enough to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool every 8 minutes.

This flow of snow melt enlivens huge areas of land, and sustains an unfathomable number of interrelated organisms that work in synergy to create our local environment. If we lose this resource to the demands of developers and builders, what could we possibly receive to compensate for it?

Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2000:
Total water withdrawals by category, 2000.

Source: USGS

Domestic use is at about 1%, maybe 2% and then you see agriculture/irrigation at over 30%, and then you see thermoelectric at 48% of total water withdrawal! Here in my corner of the world, there are farmers that grow food for humans, and farmers that grow food for animals. I’m not sure what the statistics are, but I can tell you that the percentage of farms that grow human food is so tiny compared to the percentage that grow alfalfa, hay and feed (field?) corn. I mean, you don’t see acres and acres of fruits and vegetables around, but you can usually see lots of bright green alfalfa or corn.

We’re wondering how we can feed and water the humans that already live here, yet now I hear that we need to plan for “development”?

The resources we need are here, but the priority list for who gets them and at what price is not oriented to people, to human needs, but to profitability and prior use and historical precedence.

More water rants coming soon…


Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

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