Opinion: Colorado River Cooperative Agreement – is it working?

The Grand County Commissioners, James Newberry, Merrit Linke and Gary Bumgarner submitted an opinion piece to Sky-Hi Daily News on June 4, 2013, providing an update on the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement, and how Denver Water and the county are already working together to address flows in the Fraser River during the current drought.

The Colorado River Cooperative Agreement has not yet been signed by all parties, awaiting federal agency sign-off on allied agreements. Final signatures and full execution is expected this summer. However, even though the Cooperative Agreement has not been fully executed and the Moffat Project is not yet permitted, let alone built, Denver Water voluntarily implemented fundamental and critical components of the agreement last year and again this spring providing more water for county streams than would have been present without the agreement.

Denver Water contacted Grand County officials to determine how to maximize benefit to Grand County of bypassed water. In short, instead of the historical practice of significantly reducing the bypass flows at its diversion points during droughts, Denver Water is bypassing water for the benefit of the environment and Grand County water users. This benefit amounted to about 1,500 acre-feet of water that Denver Water gave back to the Fraser River when they legally could have diverted it to Denver in 2012. According to the municipal water and wastewater providers in the Fraser Valley, this additional water made a huge benefit last year to stream flow and stream temperatures, as well as operations of water and wastewater facilities.

Again this year, Denver Water instituted drought restrictions in April, which meant they had the right to reduce the flows in the Fraser River. Despite grave concerns about their water supply — overall reservoir storage was below 2002 levels and early projections showed reservoirs may not fill this season — Denver Water contacted us to discuss the bypass flows and the best way to work with Grand County to maximize water available for the county in 2013.

This example of cooperation and communication is what was envisioned when Grand County entered into the Colorado River Cooperative Agreement with Denver Water. The relationship forged through this agreement is bearing fruit for Grand County even though the agreement is not officially in place.

As your Commissioners, we remain committed to making sure the best interests of the county, the river and our environment are served.

Read the full article in the Sky-Hi Daily News: Opinion: Colorado River Cooperative Agreement – is it working?

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Rick on June 10, 2013 at 10:36 am

    I am, admittedly, unaware of the details of this agreement, but am I hearing this right? Denver Water have VOLUNTARILY failed to capture water it had a right to, while at the same time forcing restrictions on its own residents? Are you kidding me? If we are struggling with maintaining full reservoirs, why on earth would Denver Water sign onto such an agreement in the first place. And certainly, if the agreement is not in place, why on earth would Denver Water screw its OWN customers with restrictions and voluntarily let water go? Is this correct? You have the gall to ticket and fine your own customers, and yet voluntarily give water away? And just when I thought I couldn’t be more frustrated with Denver Water.


  2. Posted by Jack on June 11, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    This horribly run bureaucracy needs new leadership. One which can respond to the demands of it’s clients and not punish them for using the only product they sell. It isn’t about drought, or conservation…it’s about MILKING customers for more money as they consume less. What a joke.


    • Posted by Denver Water on June 12, 2013 at 12:07 pm

      We’re sorry you feel that way, but our plan for the future is an approach that includes conservation, recycled water and new supply. All are important in making sure we have water in the future. None of these options on their own will get us there.


      • Posted by Jack on June 12, 2013 at 2:47 pm

        If I read your own graph correctly, demand for Denver Water’s product is LESS than it was in 1980. If that is the case, what would justify the need for a new supply of water, or a recycled water program for that matter.

        Your Water Watch graphs indicate water level have never come close to dipping below the 200,000 af “strategic reserve” threshhold, even during a real drought…not a fake one like the drought of 2013.

      • Posted by Denver Water on June 13, 2013 at 1:41 pm

        Responsible water utilities plan for both the short term and long term. Long-term planning has always been a key element in Denver Water’s ability to meet customers’ needs in a rapidly growing, dry region, and in ensuring there will be an adequate supply of clean, reliable water well into the future. Today’s customers benefit from a highly reliable water system, much of which was planned decades ago.

        The Statewide Water Supply Initiative (2010) states that Colorado’s population is forecasted to double by 2050. Denver Water’s job is to stay ahead of demand, since securing new water supplies can take decades. The good news is, our conservation program has been so successful that today our customers are using 20 percent less water than they were before the 2002 drought — even though there are 10 percent more of them.

        As we’ve seen from historical records and from other areas (like Texas and Australia), droughts can last multiple years, and it is our goal to balance our water supply and the possibility of dry weather with placing the least burdensome restrictions on the customers we serve. The board will consider changing drought restrictions once runoff is over, and we expect to know more by the end of June. In the meantime, you can check out drought conditions across Colorado using the U.S. Drought Monitor.

  3. Posted by Jack on June 11, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    So I guess to answer the question in the title… NO!, It’s not working for the average Denver Water customer. And YES! It is for Denver Water & the Drought Patrol!


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