Grand County deserves credit for making water deal |

Grand County deserves credit for making water deal

The rivers are still gushing this year. The ground is still wet in many places from a winter that gave us an above-average dump of snow.

Drought is the farthest thing from most people’s minds, and paying for excess water in a year when we don’t really need it may seem unnecessary.

But we would like to congratulate the Grand County commissioners for their forward thinking decision last month to pay a subdistrict of Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District so the county can pump excess water into Lake Granby.

On Tuesday, June 24, county commissioners voted to spend $57,500 to use the subdistrict’s pumps to move 1,500 acre-feet of water into Lake Granby. This is a one-time deal the county took advantage of after Northern and other water rights holders had satisfied their rights and unappropriated water was left in the river.

The idea came from Grand County’s water engineer Jeff Clark, who brought up the notion at a June meeting with irrigators.

Northern agreed to let us pump the water “at cost,” asking only for money to cover the cost of electricity.

The deal is only good through late summer, when commissioners hope the 1,500 acre-feet can be used to increase river flows for the health of the fish and the river itself, commissioner James Newberry said last week.

And while we may see immediate benefits this summer, the true benefits of this decision will be seen in the long term.

Water and decisions about its ownership have been historically difficult. But last month, we reached out and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy accepted.

Last week’s decision was indeed a breakthrough for the future of water in Grand County, which includes talks with Denver Water and Northern.

A door has been opened.

In the future, when we again meet at the negotiating table to discuss more difficult water decisions, compromise will theoretically be easier because it will not be unprecedented.