A major agreement between Front Range water interests and those on the Western Slope, set to be formally unveiled this week, may go a long way toward ending intrastate water fights and calming Western Slope anxiety over the water demands of the rapidly growing Front Range.
The agreement will make more water available in the headwaters of the Colorado River during low-flow periods, said Chris Treese of the Glenwood Springs-based Colorado River District. There will also be new commitments regarding the Shoshone water rights in Glenwood Canyon, some of the most senior on the river.
The agreement was first reported last week by Allen Best, who publishes a website called Mountain Town News, (http://www.mountaintownnews.net). Treese confirmed that Best’s broad outlines of the agreement were accurate, and said more details will be made public when a press conference is held in Grand County Thursday.
The agreement is the result of six years of negotiations among water interests on both sides of the Continental Divide. One of the biggest concerns from mountain communities has been diminished flows in the headwaters of the Colorado. The limited details indicate the agreement addresses those concerns.
One key part of the agreement, according to Best, would allow Denver to sell water from its Western Slope diversions to suburbs in the South Metro area. It would allow the suburbs to reduce dependency on diminishing well water. In return, they would agree not to seek their own Colorado River diversions.
It’s welcome news that the long negotiations are finally bearing fruit. Clearly, compromises were made by both sides. We hope it will be an agreement that benefits the entire state and helps protect Western Slope water for the long term.