Many eyes are on the 1250 cfs Shoshone water right

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From the Sky-Hi Daily News (Tonya Bina):

Owned by Xcel Energy, the plant’s calls for water enhance stream flows in Grand County, benefit fish and river recreation such as rafting enterprises at Gore and Glenwood canyons, and maintain historic flows that help meet the needs of downstream towns and irrigators. The Shoshone Station generates 14 megawatts of “green” power from flows, each megawatt of which services 1,000 customers, including industry and business. The 1,250 cubic feet per second (cfs) of water the power plant uses is returned to the river to the benefit of others downstream. This nonconsumptive water use makes up about 20 percent of Colorado River flows carried out of the state in an average year…

During [the 10 months in 2007 when the Shoshone powerplant was offline], reservoir operators, stewards of the endangered fish program, The Colorado River Conservation District, the Bureau of Reclamation, the state’s major water utilities and other water users came together to draw up a plan to ensure adequate flows were in the river during the absence of the Shoshone call, especially during the dryer late-summer months. Efforts proved successful, according to Jim Pokrandt of the Colorado River District. “Everyone cooperated to make sure there were enough flows,” he said. “The West Slope wasn’t economically damaged.”[…]

By way of a 2006 franchise agreement with Xcel Energy, Denver Water would have a fair chance to buy the Shoshone power plant and its connected water rights, were the plant to be put up for sale, according to Denver Water’s Director of Planning David Little. For this reason, West Slope water users hope to someday gain control of the plant rather than Denver Water gaining control of it.

“The West Slope sees it as a concern in the long run,” Kuhn said. “We want to keep the plant on the river as long as we can.” Both Little and Kuhn confirmed it is not even known if Xcel Energy wants to depart with its Shoshone power plant, especially with an increasing value in green power in Colorado. Even so, conversations with Denver Water have been initiated about its willingness to work with a West Slope coalition of water users and county governments about the destiny of the plant, Kuhn said.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here.

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