Colorado River Cooperative Agreement: ‘Summit State of the River’ speakers tout win-win for Summit County and Denver Water

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From the Summit Daily News (Janice Kurbjin):

“I remember thinking, this is the craziest thing I’ve ever gotten myself into. There are so many issues. There are so many players,” said Summit County Commissioner Thomas Davidson, who was the point person for many of the water conversations.

As Denver Water takes on responsibilities such as defining its service area, recycling and reusing water, setting conservation goals and timelines, Summit County reaps many specific benefits, officials said. In particular, county municipalities and ski resorts get more water — 1,743 acre-feet more water. Some is free, some has conditions, but what it translates to is a firmer supply in dry years for towns and ski resort snowmaking — which likely means a more protected economy.

Denver Water has also agreed to maintain the Dillon Reservoir water level at or above 9,012 feet in elevation between June 18 and Labor Day. It’s the critical level for Frisco Marina to be operational, helping drive the county’s summertime economy. “It’s their reservoir and their water rights,” Summit County manager Gary Martinez said, but they’ve agreed to not take water for recreational or hydropower on the Front Range to the detriment of Dillon Reservoir.

Also on the tourism front, the deal helps maintain recreational flows at or more than 50 cubic feet per second — primarily to benefit fishing, Silverthorne-Dillon joint sewer operations and, at higher flows, boating — into the Blue River below Dillon Dam in normal years. Dire drought circumstances are the exception, when lawn watering is banned by Denver Water — an event that’s never occurred, Lochhead said.

A one-time $11 million windfall from Denver Water comes to the county for wastewater treatment plant improvements, environmental enhancements, forest heath projects and local water and sewer work. Also, Denver Water will have the ability to sell water to some south metro area water providers, with some of the money going toward a Western slope fund for similar projects in Summit County.

More Colorado River Cooperative Agreement coverage here.

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