Colorado river district approves additional water supply measures
The Colorado River Water Conservation District Board of Directors approved two plans to keep water flowing in the Colorado River Basin as the drought of 2002 enters into the historical low-flow months.
Anticipated calls on West Slope rivers during the winter have the potential to shut off some domestic water users and impair the ability of many small West Slope reservoirs to store critical winter water. Recognizing the risks to domestic and municipal water supplies, West Slope senior water rights holders are working to eliminate the threats posed by a call on the river.
The first pact involves a voluntary reduction of water usage at the Cameo hydroelectric plant on the Colorado River in DeBeque Canyon, owned by the federal government.
If this senior water right were to exercise its full right to Colorado River water, water users stretching up into the West Slope’s winter resort regions would have their winter water supply threatened during the ski season.
This reduction is being negotiated with the Grand Valley Water Users Association, the Orchard Mesa Irrigation District and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Hydroelectric production in the winter months at the Cameo plant normally provides added revenue for these entities.
Another agreement ceases use of water for power generation by Redlands Water and Power Company from the Gunnison River near Grand Junction until river flows increase with next spring’s run-off.
The Redlands and Cameo agreements are the latest in a long series of arrangements fashioned by the River District and other West Slope water users and water management agencies to keep water flowing to the greatest number of water users. The uninterrupted flow of water for many West Slope households has been made possible by numerous cooperative arrangements throughout the West Slope during the worst drought year in the recorded history of Colorado.
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