Court’s water ruling could have effect on West Slope

A Colorado Supreme Court ruling limiting the amount of agricultural water that could be diverted to a growing suburb could have implications for the Western Slope.

“It underscores the proposed cooperative agreement” among several Western Slope entities and Denver Water, said Chris Treese, spokesman for the Colorado River Water Conservation District. “Without it, they all look to the West Slope” for water supplies.

The state’s high court upheld a water-court ruling that limited the amount of water that could be diverted by the East Cherry Creek Valley Water and Sanitation District to southeast Denver using agricultural water rights held by Burlington Ditch Land and Reservoir Co. and the Farmers Reservoir and Irrigation Co.

Although the participants in the dispute maintain they can still deliver the water, the issue illustrates the need to better manage Colorado River water as envisioned under the proposed agreement between Denver and the Western Slope, Treese said.

Under that proposed agreement, several irrigation districts, cities, counties and other organizations in the Colorado River Basin would agree not to oppose plans by Denver Water to expand a Front Range reservoir. In exchange, Denver Water would agree to work in concert with them on future water projects.

The agreement could have implications for the participants in the Front Range dispute because it also would allow Denver Water to use excess flows from Aurora to supply the south metro area, Treese said.

The Colorado River Basin-Denver Water agreement has yet to receive a vote from any of the affected organizations, but votes are expected through the rest of this year. The agreement requires approval by all of the affected organizations.

“We’re committed to putting all the pieces together, as is Denver,” Treese said.


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