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Company Cancels Two Little Colorado River Hydro Projects, Pursues a Third

Ryan Heinsius

A Phoenix-based company has withdrawn its applications for two hydro-storage projects on the Little Colorado River. A third such proposal, however, remains in the works despite strong opposition from environmental groups and tribes. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The company Pumped Hydro Storage told federal officials late last month it would no longer pursue its Salt Canyon and Little Colorado River projects. Several dams and reservoirs were slated for steep canyons above the confluence with the Colorado River on the Navajo Nation. Managers say investing in the proposals has become high risk because of groups fighting the plan who worry about impacts to the desert ecosystem, water and the endangered humpback chub.

Tribes including the Hopi and Navajo are also opposed because of potential impacts to sacred and culturally sensitive sites.

A preliminary application for a third hydro-storage proposal in the area remains under review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It’s planned for Big Canyon, a tributary of the LCR, and would include four reservoirs and multiple dams up to 400 feet high that would store and release water to create electricity.

The company did not respond to a request for comment.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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