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

Aug 11, 2021

A Phoenix-based company has withdrawn its applications for two hydro-storage projects on the Little Colorado River.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.

An aerial view of the Little Colorado River near the confluence of the Colorado River. Preliminary applications for two hydro-storage projects proposed on the LCR have now been withdrawn but a third project for the nearby Big Canyon remains in the works by a Phoenix-based company.
Credit Ryan Heinsius / KNAU

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.