Denver to meet with Western Slope water utilities |

Denver to meet with Western Slope water utilities

KEYSTONE ” The Denver Water Board and Western Slope water utilities will try again next month to come up with a water-sharing plan that protects mountain resort communities while providing the city with more water.

The two sides have been talking for two years without producing a plan acceptable to both. They are hoping the Keystone meeting July 13 will break the ice.

“It’s really a way to build some rapport,” Denver Water Board member Tom Gougeon said. “This is the very, very beginning of the conversation.”

Several West Slope water utilities joined forces last month, offering a proposal to Denver Water that reportedly offers a comprehensive plan to protect water supplies in Mesa, Grand, Summit and Eagle counties, while giving Denver the chance to develop more water projects in the high country.

“This is a natural outgrowth of what we’ve all been working on,” said Chris Treese, director of external affairs for the Glenwood Springs-based Colorado River Water Conservation District. “Now we think the (utility) boards need to meet face-to-face to begin talking to each other.”

Water officials said the proposal won’t be made public for now, because they’re worried the talks will break apart before any deals can be completed.

Some elected officials were troubled by the decision to keep the proposal confidential.

“I’m suspicious about the whole process,” said state Rep. Kathleen Curry, D-Gunnison. “It leaves the rest of the West Slope wondering what’s really going on here.”

“The type of discussion they’re having is essential,” Wilkinson said. “I hope some kind of comprehensive plan to address East Slope and West Slope water needs is developed. But we need to be included,” said Eric Wilkinson, manager of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

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