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Northern: 'Good Faith' Water Agreement Expected Soon

KUNC file photo
The Yampa River in northwest Colorado is running at record levels. But water managers caution this year is probably an anomaly.

Officials with the agency that provides water to scores of cities and farms in northeastern Colorado say they’re close to announcing an agreement that seeks to ease long-standing tensions between water users on the Front Range and the western slope.  The pending agreement is expected to be similar to one recently announced by Denver Water. Water has been bitterly fought over in Colorado for as long as anyone can remember.  And there has long been a dizzying maze of pipes and canals that ship water from the snowy western slope to the arid eastern plains where most Coloradans live.  This Spring, Denver Water announced a much-hailed good-faith agreement that among other things, promises the agency won’t propose any more, large trans-mountain diversions without the consent of county commissioners in western Colorado. 

Denver’s counterpart, Northern Water, is working on a similar agreement, according to the agency’s spokesman Brian Werner.

"Nobody’s going to build projects and take water from the western slope of Colorado without doing just that, without getting the agreement of everybody that’s evolved, that is simple reality," Werner said. 

Werner said there is more communication today among agencies like his on the Front Range and their western slope counterparts than there ever has been.

"Denver was just acknowledging they’re not going to do business like they once did," Werner added.

Northern is not revealing details about what may lie in its agreement.  But Werner said his agency hopes to make it public within the next couple of months. 

Both Northern and Denver Water are proposing to increase the amount of Colorado River water currently going into each utility’s collection systems; a move that has angered some conservationists

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.
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