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Press Release

December 9, 2005

Agreement Reached on Releases from Green Mountain Reservoir

WASHINGTON – In the spirit of cooperation and compromise, Federal and Colorado water officials have reached agreement on how to share Green Mountain Reservoir water if releases are constrained by concerns about earth movement around the community of Heeney or by maintenance of the dam.

The settlement was announced today by representatives of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, the Colorado River Water Conservation District, and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

The agreement represents a collaborative resolution to a lawsuit filed by the Colorado River Water Conservation District and other West Slope water users. The suit contested how Reclamation allocated Green Mountain water releases in 2002 as a precautionary move to ensure that reservoir draw-down did not contribute to the pre-existing landslide.

Reclamation continues to study the ancient earth movement, but has not established what, if any, links exist between reservoir operations and the landslide.

Under the settlement agreement, should reservoir operating limitations affect future water deliveries, the parties agree to carry out water-management measures that include conservation, locating alternative sources of stored water, and, if necessary, sharing any shortages created by operational limitations at Green Mountain Reservoir. Neither the lawsuit nor the agreement addresses water shortages caused by drought.

Reclamation operates Green Mountain Reservoir as part of the federal Colorado-Big Thompson Project (C-BT), for the benefit of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and West Slope water users.

“The Department of the Interior is very pleased with the cooperation and commitment displayed by all those who negotiated the settlement,” said Mark Limbaugh, Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Water and Science. “This demonstrates how stakeholders with differing interests can work closely together to find common ground.”

“The Colorado River District is pleased that a protracted and divisive legal proceeding has been averted and that local and federal resources can be dedicated to more productive activities,” General Manager Eric Kuhn added.

“I applaud the parties’ motivation to cooperate in relation to the operational constraints at Green Mountain,” said Eric Wilkinson, General Manager of the
Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. “This is truly a landmark settlement and shows the willingness of Eastern and Western Colorado to find, through cooperation, ways to address our individual needs and concerns in a mutually beneficial way,”

Reclamation Commissioner John Keys said, “I am pleased we have been able
to arrive at this settlement that addresses the allocation of shortages
while maintaining operational measures for public health and safety."

Parties to the agreement are the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, Colorado River Water Conservation District, Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, Grand Valley Water Users Association, Orchard Mesa Irrigation District, Grand Valley Irrigation Company, Palisade Irrigation District, Middle Park Water Conservancy District, and the State of Colorado.

The Green Mountain Reservoir was built from 1938-1943 by Reclamation, which releases water to the Colorado River when project facilities upstream on the Colorado are diverting water through the Continental Divide to cities and irrigators that are part of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.
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Colorado River Dec 9 2005
 
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