Steven DeWitt

Steven DeWitt is a New York City-based conservation photographer. His work has appeared in numerous national and international publi…

Water Rights

About Saving the Homestake

“Saving the Homestake” is a documentary film by Steven DeWitt about the fight to protect a rare wetland ecosystem from destruction in Colorado’s Eagle River watershed. At the edge of the Holy Cross Wilderness, hemmed in by forests and soaring mountain peaks, is a 10,000 year old wetland ecosystem in a glacial valley called the Homestake. Flowing through the valley is Homestake Creek, a tributary of the Eagle River – one of the Colorado River’s major upper tributaries.

A group of parties that collectively own water rights in the area want to build a reservoir by damming Homestake Creek. Almost all of the stored water would be pumped east back over the Continental Divide through a series of pipes and tunnels to the expanding cities of Aurora and Colorado Springs whose water rights in the area date back to 1952.

The proposed reservoir would inundate the wetlands and divert water from the Colorado River Basin. Water projects like these that siphon water from the Western Slope of the continent is one of the reasons the Colorado River hasn’t reached the Gulf of California since 1998. A lot needs to happen before dam construction can begin, but if the parties with water rights succeed in damming the Homestake, this rare, ancient, beautiful, biologically diverse, carbon sink will be lost forever.

In telling the story of a proposed dam in Colorado’s Homestake Valley, “Saving the Homestake” shows how the collision of water rights, exploding population growth and the climate emergency is a disaster unfolding throughout the entire American Southwest.