Denver and the northern district have the water rights to take those 48,000 acre-feet from the streams and rivers of Grand County.
"For years Denver Water's position was: 'These are our water rights; we're exercising them,' " said Kirk Klancke, manager of the Winter Park Ranch Water and Sewer District. "So this dialogue is a big step."
What Grand County officials are seeking are ways to soften and manage the impacts of removing more water.
The county has spent $800,000 on a stream-management plan that indicates what a healthy flow would be for each reach of stream and river flowing through the county.
The towns of Winter Park and Fraser, in cooperation with Trout Unlimited, initiated a $750,000 project to reconfigure a stretch of the Fraser River so it would run faster and have deeper pools for fish.
The county spent $60,000 this summer to pump an additional 1,500 acre-feet of water into Lake Granby so it could be released this fall to help buck-up the Colorado and prevent another Labor Day dry-out.