Water agreement close to done deal

A year and a half after it was first rolled out, the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement has the approval — though not necessarily the signatures — needed to be put in place.

The agreement, which must be signed by all affected parties, would agree on management of the Colorado River Basin by water agencies on both sides of the Continental Divide.

The Colorado Cooperative Agreement — forged between Denver Water and a multitude of Western Slope water agencies representing interests as diverse as those of the head-waters of the river to Grand Valley water agencies near the Utah line — was drafted to assure both sides of cooperation.

The agreement also would allow Denver Water to expand a reservoir fed by Western Slope water. It would provide money from Denver Water for some high-elevation projects and remove one threat to the Grand Valley water supply.

The agreement also calls for the river to be managed as though the Shoshone power plant in Glenwood Canyon is operating, even if it is not. The Grand Valley depends on the 1,205 cubic feet of water per second that the power plant has called down the river since 1905.

The plant, however, is owned by Xcel Energy, which isn’t bound by the agreement.

The agreement “has been approved by every party,” said Chris Treese, spokesman for the Colorado River Water Conservation District. “While they might not yet have put signatures on the page, all the governing boards’ actions have occurred.”

Officials with Grand Valley water agencies are still reviewing the fine points, said Ute Water Conservancy District General Manager Larry Clever.

Only when agencies such as his are satisfied with the way water is accounted for at Green Mountain Reservoir will they sign off on it, Clever said.

And only when the Grand Valley agencies have signed off, officially, can the River District formally approve the agreement.

All the signatures should be collected “in the next few weeks,” Treese said.

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