#Gunnison armed with ‘strong and resilient’ #water rights — The Gunnison Country Times

Map of the Gunnison River drainage basin in Colorado, USA. Made using public domain USGS data. By Shannon1 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69257550

Click the link to read the article on The Gunnison Country Times website (Bella Biondini). Here’s an excerpt:

The risk of water curtailments throughout the state is growing as the Upper and Lower basin states continue to negotiate a way to deal with extensive drought conditions along the Colorado River — a system under significant stress as the West dries up.  On Sept. 27, the City of Gunnison’s water attorney, Jennifer DiLalla, provided council with an update on the standings of its water rights. She focused on the city’s preparedness to maintain water security as Colorado discusses how it will handle a potential “compact call,” which could reduce the water supply of more junior users throughout the state. The Colorado River Compact is a 1922 agreement allocating water use rights between basin states. While the Lower Basin states of Nevada, Arizona and California are already dealing with compact-related reductions to their water use to boost the levels of Lake Powell, the Upper Basin states of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico, have not yet been faced with a compact call. A call would result from the Upper Basin’s inability to meet its delivery obligations to the Lower Basin, requiring water cuts upstream to make up for the deficit. Water planners in Colorado evaluate their portfolios based on whether the water rights that make up their water supply are junior or senior to the compact…

According to DiLalla, the city is well positioned based on the pre-compact priorities of its “workhorse” water rights. The town ditch, which is one of the city’s primary water sources, is decreed for 64 cubic feet per second (cfs) out of the Gunnison River — which accounts for almost 42 million gallons per day — with an 1880 priority date. For the 10-year period between 2012 and 2022, the ditch was never out of priority. While it can only be utilized between May and September, the water can be stored and is critical for long-term planning, she said. The town pipeline, another significant diversion, has an 1883 appropriation and priority date with no seasonal limits — making it available for municipal use when the ditch isn’t running…Despite what DiLalla called a “strong and resilient” portfolio, she still recommended that city staff draft risk mitigation strategies to protect against severe and long-term drought, events that could ultimately trigger a compact call along the Colorado. Storage will be critical, she said.

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