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Wed Mar 18, 2020, 08:38 AM

As Western Coal Plants Close, The Water They Once Used Becomes Available - Where Does It Go Now?

Coal-fired power plants are closing, or being given firm deadlines for closure, across the country. In Western states supported by the overallocated and drought-plagued Colorado River, these plants use a significant amount of the region’s scarce water supplies. With closure dates looming, river communities are starting the contentious debate about how this newly available water should be put to use.

That conversation is just beginning in Craig, in the northwest Colorado, which is home to nearly 9,000 residents and hundreds of coal industry workers. In January, Tri-State Generation and Transmission announced it will fully close Craig Station by 2030. The same goes for the nearby Colowyo coal mine. The news comes on the heels of several high profile closures or closure announcements in Arizona, Wyoming and New Mexico. Each has a coal plant that taps into the Colorado River or its tributaries.


Without local input into what happens to Craig Station’s water rights, Holloway worries it could hurt the Yampa, which is the plant’s current water source. Colorado has a long history of transmountain diversion, where water from the wetter Western Slope is diverted over the Continental Divide east to the populous Front Range. “That’s the biggest fear, is they’re going to go into the headwaters of the Yampa, make a pipeline going over to the eastern slope,” Holloway said.

So far, Tri-State hasn’t tipped its hand on what it plans to do with the water. Duane Highley, Tri-State’s CEO, said at a news conference shortly after Craig Station’s closure announcement that his company already is fielding calls from interested buyers, but he didn’t elaborate as to who has inquired. “When you look at a typical coal facility, it uses an enormous amount of water,” Highley said, “and the fact that that will be liberated and available for other reuse will be significant.” A spokesman for Tri-State declined to be interviewed for this story. In an email, Lee Boughey of Tri-State said the company was not yet ready to delve into details related to Craig Station’s water.



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Reply As Western Coal Plants Close, The Water They Once Used Becomes Available - Where Does It Go Now? (Original post)
hatrack Mar 18 OP
mountain grammy Mar 18 #1

Response to hatrack (Original post)

Wed Mar 18, 2020, 10:48 PM

1. I remember driving through Craig in the fall of 2016

Lots of Trump signs along with the “ coal keeps the lights on” signs.

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