Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District keeping an eye on DNR’s plans for basin water

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In a letter last year to Reclamation Harris Sherman wrote, “Colorado intends that this water [the state is negotiating for 200,000 acre feet of water from the Aspinall unit] would be released downstream, but must ensure the water is used to benefit the entire state of Colorado, thus the details of the use would be determined during negotiations between the state and the (Bureau of Reclamation), with meaningful input from all water user stakeholders.” It seems that there are skeptics regarding the opportunity for “meaningful input” up in the Gunnison Basin. Here’s a report from Evan Dawson writing for the Crested Butte News:

While the Bureau of Reclamation waits for comments on its recently released plan of operations for the Aspinall water storage unit, which includes Blue Mesa Reservoir, the state of Colorado is looking to enter negotiations with the Bureau for a large quantity of the reservoir’s water. Although the potential contract between the state and the federal government has been on the table since last fall, local water officials remain concerned because the idea has not yet been discussed with stakeholders in the Upper Gunnison Basin…

Part of the local concern is that taking that much water out of Blue Mesa could leave little left over for recreation, since the state is asking for nearly a quarter of the reservoir’s total water storage capacity…

Part of the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District’s frustration is the DNR has been meeting with various groups across the state, such as the Colorado Water Congress and Club 20, but the state has yet to discuss the matter before the local water board. During the UGRWCD meeting on March 23, board member Steve Glazer recapped a Colorado Water Conservation Board meeting he attended on Tuesday, March 17 in Longmont that included a late addition to the agenda, titled “Blue Mesa Water Issues.” Glazer says at the meeting DNR water director Alex Davis announced she had been visiting with various organizations across Colorado and discussing the 200,000-acre-foot proposal. “She indicated the bureau has acknowledged receipt of the request but has taken no action,” Glazer said. “I indicated we had many questions and an awful lot of expertise in the basin and that it would be useful if they started discussions with us,” Glazer said. Board member Ralph Grover suggested writing a letter to Davis and Sherman asking them to meet with the UGRWCD.

UGRWCD manager Frank Kugel said Davis has been trying to meet with the board and was planning on coming to their May meeting.

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