Friends invited us to join them for dinner in Golden Colorado at the Golden Hotel and the three films that were to be shown at the same location later in the evening. The main attraction at the restaurant is a special Coors beer called “Barmen’s Pilsner.” We were warned that the beer would take a “seven minute pour” before serving. We accepted, and two of four (who aren’t frequent beer drinkers) decided it wasn’t so special. We probably would have been judged to have ordered inappropriate meals by many who later attended the movies. Three of us ordered the prime rib special and the other ordered the immensely tasty and calorie-packed macaroni and cheese (lots and lots of cheese!) with lobster and bacon. The time at the restaurant was the highlight of the evening, since the movies weren’t nearly as much fun.
We made our way into the well-attended viewing room with our $5 dollar tickets to watch the three movies, and I’m going to do two postings to cover my comments. This posting will be about water use. The second will be about people with diseases who worked at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant and plutonium contamination in the area of the plant.
The first film, and my favorite, was “Chasing Water” by Peter McBride. The director grew up in Western Colorado, and decided to follow the Colorado River to determine how long it would take for water flowing back to the river from the irrigation on the family hay ranch to reach the Sea of Cortez. A friend paddled the river while he mostly viewed and filmed the river from private planes. The river ran dry in Mexico in 1998 because of “too many straws drinking out of the river.” It is now dry about 90 miles short of the ocean. The answer to when water from the ranch would reach the ocean is “never.”
The third movie, “No Water to Waste” by Chris Garre, (which finished third in my voting) presented several issues, including Colorado Front Range water supplies and uses. The movie, criticizes Denver Water Board plans to enlarge Gross Reservoir. Apparently building the dam for the reservoir in 1954 wasn’t an environmental disaster, but making it taller would be. The movie makes the point that available water should be used more wisely instead of increasing capacity. There were shots of urban sprawl and discussion of planned development. One question asked by a member of the audience after the movie was whether the director thought development should be ended or curtailed, and he replied something to the effect that would be difficult. People will continue to be attracted to the area.
There was a recent article by Bruce Finley in the Denver Post about failure of a Wyoming pipeline that would bring water to the Denver metropolitan area to receive an initial permit. There is a table showing average gallons of water used per-capita by seventeen Colorado cities. People who have been made to feel guilt about how much water they use should take heart. The statewide average use declined from 214 gallons per person in 1990 to 167 gallons in 2008.
I’ll close with that comment as I work on what to say about the Rocky Flats issues included in the second and third movies.