April 5, 2015--California drought could impact Western Slope (Grand Junction Sentinel)

Even before California declared mandatory water restrictions last week, water purveyors in the Golden State were paying top dollar for water already in the state. That suggests the price of water from upstream might fetch even more money — something that hasn’t gone without notice in the water-wealthy (relatively) and cash-poor (absolutely) places like the Western Slope of Colorado. There is no way now to sell or lease water outside Colorado’s borders, but that so far hasn’t impeded people giving it some thought. “Are there feelers out there about creating a water market, quote unquote?” said Mark Harris, general manager of the Grand Valley Water Users’ Association. “Obviously yes, and people are interested, on both sides of the table.” Colorado is involved in talks aimed at circumventing a call on the Colorado River by downstream states, especially California, the nation’s most-populous state that is now in its driest condition ever. “We’re certainly sympathetic with California’s condition,” said James Eklund, director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, in an email. “As the headwaters of a major system they depend on (the Colorado River), we know how devastating 6 percent snowpack would be. This makes the contingency planning talks we’re in the middle of all the more important and urgent.” California’s woes could very well become Colorado’s, so the Colorado River Water Conservation District is looking well ahead to find ways to make water peace before water wars break out. “We’re trying to avoid the worst-case scenario,” River District spokesman Chris Treese said. “We know we have to answer (how to manage the river in extreme drought) even though it is too early.” The effort to avoid that worst-case scenario includes the discussions among the basin states, an emphasis on conservation and the possibility that agreements could be arranged among water-rights holders and willing buyers. To view the full article visit the Grand Junction Sentinel.