Water storage ‘absolutely’ part of #COWaterPlan — Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Gary Harmon):

Western Slope water storage is “absolutely” a part of the Colorado water plan that is to be complete in just over a year, said the head of the Colorado Water Conservation Board. James Eklund, however, declined to offer specifics about any discussions.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., this week told the editorial board of The Daily Sentinel that he and Gov. John Hickenlooper have discussed the possibility of high-elevation water storage to benefit the Western Slope. He was unable to offer specifics, but said the conversation began in late August at the Colorado Water Congress.

Eklund, who is in charge of drawing together the suggestions of water roundtables from the state’s basins to draft the statewide plan, said it recognizes the need for storage.

“Colorado’s water challenges require that we consider options that include both conservation and storage,” Eklund said in an email. “Conservation and storage go hand-in-hand in addressing our water-supply gap.”

The state water plan also contemplates the idea of a transmountain diversion, but no specific proposal has been made.

Hickenlooper’s office didn’t respond directly to inquiries about conversations with Tipton.

A Western Slope storage project, however, is “an intriguing idea,” said Bonnie Petersen, executive director of Club 20, the Western Slope advocacy district, noting that the idea has long been recognized as a need. Club 20, however, has no information about such a project, she said.

The Colorado River Water Conservation District, likewise, had no information about any such project, though spokesman Chris Treese said several projects are being pursued.

The Colorado River Cooperative Agreement with Denver Water, agreements affecting the Eagle River, rebuilding the old Dillon Reservoir and a variety of other projects are continuing.

Collectively, “There are 65,000 to 75,000 acre-feet on the table right now,” Treese said.

Chatter about transmountain diversions could prove to be of ultimate benefit to a Western Slope project, Treese said.

“We built Wolford Mountain (Reservoir) in the shadow of Two Forks,” Treese said, referring to a now-defunct proposal to divert Western Slope water to the South Platte River drainage to be stored behind Two Forks Dam.

Wolford Mountain Reservoir near Kremmling includes compensatory storage for the Western Slope as well as storage for the Front Range.

More Colorado Water Plan coverage here.

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