West Slope Roundtables Meeting

A West Slope roundtable meeting was conducted in mid-December in Grand Junction. There were about 75 members of the four roundtables, plus another 75 or so members of the public and Colorado’s professional water community, that discussed and heard a number of topics related to the Colorado Water Plan. One of the items on the agenda was the draft seven-point framework developed by the Interbasin Compact Committee (IBCC) that lays out conditions for future discussions on the potential new trans-mountain diversion (TMD) in Colorado. Those seven points include:

The Eastern Slope is not looking for firm yield from a new TMD project and would accept hydrologic risk for that project.

  1. A new TMD diversion project would be used conjunctively with Eastern Slope interruptible supply agreements, Denver Basin Aquifer resources, carry-over storage, terminal storage, drought restriction savings, and other non-Western Slope water sources.
  2. In order to manage when a new TMD will be able to divert, triggers are needed to manage a potential compact call.
  3. An insurance policy that protects against involuntary curtailment is needed for existing uses and some reasonable increment of future development in the Colorado River system, but it will not cover a new TMD.
  4. Future Western Slope needs should be accommodated as part of a new TMD project.
  5. Colorado will continue its commitment to improve conservation and reuse.
  6. Environmental resiliency and recreational needs must be addressed both before, and conjunctively, with a new TMD.
Bruce Whitehead, Executive Director of the Southwestern Water Conservation District and a member of the IBCC and the Southwest Basin Roundtable indicated that the conceptual framework was developed to set up a dialogue about TMDs—pros, cons, as one piece of “how do we meet Colorado’s gap in the future?”
Other topics discussed at the meeting were; the Colorado River Compact and risk of Compact administration, future West Slope needs and uses, and Basin Implementation Plans (BIP’s)for the four west slope Roundtable including points of agreements and differences. It was agreed to convene a group to include west slope IBCC members and Roundtable Chairs to further discuss the BIP’s, points of agreement, and messaging.