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December 9, 2005
Colorado River Dec 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
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
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
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.