Water deal with Denver needs work, official says

A far-reaching settlement of disputes between the Western Slope and Denver Water is a long way from being approved and couldn’t pass right now in the Grand Valley, a water official said.

That doesn’t mean the much-ballyhooed agreement won’t win approval eventually, but several questions remain, Ute Water Conservancy District General Manager Larry Clever said at a Club 20 water committee meeting.

“Right now, the Grand Valley would not sign off,” Clever told about 11 water committee members during a meeting in the old Mesa County courthouse annex.

Denver Water and several Western Slope water organizations unveiled the broad outline of an agreement in April.

The agreement is aimed most immediately at clearing the way for Denver Water to expand reservoir capacity on the Front Range and setting up rules for developing Western Slope water for the next quarter century.

Among those rules is the requirement that Denver Water win the support of affected counties and the Colorado River Water Conservation District to proceed with water projects.

It also would establish a protocol calling for the Colorado River to be managed as though the Shoshone hydroelectric power plant upstream from Glenwood Springs is operating, even though it might be out.

Sticking points in the negotiations remain the treatment of the Shoshone water right, one of the most senior on the river, even if the plant is no longer operating, and the management of Green Mountain Reservoir, Clever said.

The agreement also contains provisions that bind for 25 years water organizations that contract with Denver Water for Western Slope water to the agreement, Colorado River Water Conservation District spokesman Chris Treese said.

“It says they can’t have a hostile takeover” of Denver Water projects that would roll back relationships built with the Western Slope, Treese said.

Committee members ultimately stopped short of endorsing the agreement, but did recommend the Club 20 board applaud the progress towards an overall agreement.


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