Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, November 18, 2020


Taylor McKinnon, (801) 300-2414,

Utah Rejects Massive Water Grab Threatening Utah's Green River, Endangered Fish

SALT LAKE CITY— Following legal protests from the Center for Biological Diversity and dozens of other non-governmental and governmental organizations, Utah’s state engineer last night rejected a water-rights application from Water Horse Resources to pump nearly 18 billion gallons of water each year from Utah’s Green River over the Rocky Mountains to Colorado’s Front Range.

The decision marks the third failed attempt by would-be water developer Aaron Million to pump water from the Green River to the Front Range. Million’s first plan was rejected twice by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2012 following challenges by conservation groups and others.

“This decision is a big win for the Green River as well as the people and endangered fish that depend on it,” said the Center’s Taylor McKinnon, a senior campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We hope the state engineer’s decision is the final nail in the coffin of this absurdly greedy, irresponsible plan.”

Echoing concerns raised in the protests, the state engineer said the application was inconsistent with Utah's reasonable water conservation policies and could prevent Utah from complying with the Colorado River Compact.

The water withdrawals were proposed below Flaming Gorge Dam in a part of the Green River that is critical to the recovery of Colorado pikeminnow and other endangered fish. The withdrawal would further reduce river flows that are needed to protect the fish populations at a time when failure to meet recovery flows already imperil these endangered fish. Drought and increasing temperatures are expected to cause low river flows throughout the Upper Colorado River Basin this year and into the future.

Green River Oxbow, Canyonlands National Park. Photo credit, Neal Herbert, NPS Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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