Colorado River Cooperative Agreement: Prior appropriation often conflicts with maintaining streamflow

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“A change to a water right has become a suicide mission and hamstrings these types of agreements,” [Eric Kuhn, executive director of the Colorado River Conservation District] said at last week’s Interbasin Compact Committee. His comments brought a chorus of agreement, and talk of how to implement flexibility and creativity in water rights among others around the table.

Actually, the state has spent months talking with the negotiators about the kinds of things that might be acceptable in guaranteeing flows, State Engineer Dick Wolfe said this week. “We’ve looked at the agreement in order to talk about implementation,” Wolfe said. “We went through a process to identify flexibility in existing laws.”[…]

There are five separate agreements with state and federal agencies that have to be reached in order to implement the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement. State provisions include a Blue River consent decree from Division 5 Water Court in Summit County, agreement on delivery of consumptive flows from Denver in Grand County, and an agreement on environmental flows. Agreements with the Bureau of Reclamation must be reach on the Shoshone power plant and for Green Mountain Reservoir operations…

“We push to have them take it to water court,” Wolfe said. “It minimizes what a future state engineer or division engineer may decide.” While court decrees are paramount, the state engineer can administer contracts between water users, and can also shepherd state in-stream flow rights (which can only be held by the Colorado Water Conservation Board) to meet flow demands. Water court case filings serve to notify other water users if changes are being contemplated.

More Colorado River Cooperative Agreement coverage here.

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