Grand County: Denver Water and several west slope organizations to announce a deal on upper Colorado transmountain diversion projects on April 28

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From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Negotiation of the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement has been done in closed session over several years by water-district officials, utility executives and staffers, and their lawyers in Western Slope towns and around the metro area. The parties pursued it after years of litigation. Denver and Western Slope authorities are expected to reveal some details of their negotiations next week…

The rough agreement — more than 50 pages — has surfaced as Denver Water’s Moffat Tunnel plan to divert more Colorado River water from west of the Continental Divide to an expanded Gross Reservoir west of Boulder is under environmental review. The Northern Water Conservancy District, which also is proposing a new diversion project for Front Range suburbs, apparently is not part of the new deal. “The proposed agreement establishes a new approach to managing water in Colorado,” Denver Water manager Jim Lochhead, a former director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, said in a statement. “It embraces a partnership to manage water for the benefit of the state as a whole. “It would provide Denver Water the operational flexibility necessary to manage our system and develop additional water resources in the face of drought and climate change and also would provide a number of enhancements to the environment, water supply and water quality on the West Slope.” Denver Water also would commit to sharing water it diverts with south-metro suburbs. To participate in a separate water-sharing deal with Denver, those communities would have to agree not to seek future diversions from western Colorado…

“The deal’s great, innovative, the way of the future,” said Drew Peternell, director of Trout Unlimited’s Colorado Water Project. “But it doesn’t deal with the impacts of Denver’s Moffat Tunnel project. We want to make sure the stream-flow impacts of that project are fully mitigated. If it is permitted, that project should not be allowed to damage fisheries.”

Here’s a report from Dennis Webb from behind The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel paywall:

A key element is designed to resolve concerns surrounding the Shoshone Power Plant water right in Glenwood Canyon. That senior right helps ensure river flows through the canyon and downstream, and it reduces the need for holders of senior water rights at Cameo downstream to exercise a water call that affects those with junior water rights. Mely Whiting, an attorney with Colorado Trout Unlimited, said she hasn’t been a party to the negotiations but has been briefed by some participants. She said the deal reportedly tries to address problems that could arise when the power plant is down for maintenance, and the threat that Xcel Energy could sell it and the plant’s call could be inactivated. Resolving the power plant concern “is a very positive thing,” she said.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

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