Hickenlooper hails proposed water deal

Officials this morning unveiled a proposed agreement that includes $25 million and other commitments for the Western Slope in exchange for greater certainty for Denver’s future use of Colorado River Basin water.

“It really does demonstrate collaboration at work, that collaboration can move mountains and move water lawyers,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said at a press conference in Grand County.

The agreement, still being finalized, involves Denver Water and 33 West Slope entities. It would enable Denver Water to move forward with its Moffat Collection System Project and include a provision that parties not oppose Denver’s storage of its Blue River and Moffat Project water on the Front Range.

In return, Denver Water could develop any new water project in the Colorado River Basin only with the approval of basin entities or good-faith consultation with them, depending on the circumstances.

The utility also would make financial contributions including $11 million apiece in Grand and Summit counties for environmental improvements, water and sewer infrastructure and other projects.

And the agreement establishes that flows required by the Shoshone Power Plant senior water right in Glenwood Canyon would continue during plant outages. Additionally, Denver Water would agree to cooperate in looking into the possible purchase of the plant by West Slope entities. It’s owned by Xcel Energy.

Hickenlooper said he thinks Coloradoans will applaud the deal. It involves compromises in which no one gets all they wanted, he said.

“But you end up with an agreement that has lasting significance,” he said.

Among some other measures in the proposal, Denver Water would:

• agree to try to maintain the water level of Dillon Reservoir at or above 9,012 feet in elevation between June 18 and Labor Day.

• support a recreational in-channel diversion application for Glenwood Springs’ whitewater park.

• pay $1.5 million for water supply, quality and infrastructure projects for the Grand Valley.

• commit $1 million to a fund to protect wild and scenic river values.

• provide, under various terms, more than 3,000 acre feet a year in Summit and Grand counties for environmental, ski area, municipal and other purposes.

• be able to pursue an agreement with utilities in Douglas and Arapahoe counties that would reduce their reliance on diminishing groundwater supplies and enable them under certain conditions to use Colorado River water.

• complete construction of a recycled water treatment plant, implement an existing water conservation plan and also save another 10,000 acre feet per year by 2030 through conservation and reuse.


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