Water deal still a work in progress

Summit Daily News by Mely Whiting

A recent Denver Post article about the conflict over proposed Colorado Basin water diversions to the Front Range proclaimed that “Water war ends in deal.” As appealing as the headline may be, it is inaccurate.

No deal has been struck. No agreement reached. Denver Water and Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District did unveil last week a joint proposal to mitigate the impacts of their respective proposed transmountain diversion projects on the Fraser and Colorado headwaters. The proposal is promising, as is Denver and Northern’s good-faith effort to respond to concerns raised by many. But, far from a done deal, the proposal signals only the beginning of serious discussions.

Denver and Northern have an opportunity here to make history — to create transmountain water diversion projects that serve the needs of the Front Range, while protecting and even improving the rivers, their outstanding fisheries, and a quality of life for both county residents and visitors. Whether the Post’s optimistic headline comes true depends on the outcome of discussions slated to take place over the next several weeks. For those talks to succeed, anglers and other key stakeholders must be at the table. We urge Denver Water and Northern to extend an invitation to these stakeholders and make this a truly historic agreement.

Mely Whiting is an attorney for Trout Unlimited’s Colorado Water Project.