Not overuntil it’s over
Snowfall remains the solution to drought. The snowpack is about 103 percent of average, but it’s early in the season. Still, a snowpack of 100 percent of average will feel like a big year compared to the last seven, or so.Until we get several years of big snows, and maybe Mother Nature and Denver Water actually gets Dillon Dam to spill, the jury remains out on the end of the drought.In our opinion, the population growth predicted for the Front Range and even our Western Slope dictates that while a drought may end, water shortages will not.That’s why we’ve been talking for the last year about the need for the Front Range to develop a new water ethic that considers growth, landscaping, conservation, reuse and other ways to foster a reality that we live in the Arid West, not North Carolina.Recently, several water utilities on the Front Range discussed just this idea, and we commend them for it. While the intentions are good, the politics are aimed at us. We hear you. Denver Water is still making up its mind whether to join.Meanwhile, Denver Water is working on Summit County to come up with more water from the Blue River. Separately, it’s trying to pull more water out of the water-impoverished Fraser River Valley in Grand County.All kinds of ideas are being thrown around behind closed doors on how to make that happen, at the expense of modification of a legal document called the Blue River Decree.The Blue River Decree is a legal hammer over Denver Water’s head because it addresses issues such as how big an area Denver Water can serve and reuse of water drawn out of Dillon Reservoir through the Roberts Tunnel.Issues are contentious enough that Summit County and Denver Water agreed several years ago not to sue each other for a period while negotiations take place.In the interim, the worst drought year in history, 2002, hit and Denver Water was spurred into a more aggressive posture about diverting Western Slope water.The so-called standstill agreement expires Dec. 31. Denver Water has an offer on the table. We look forward to how this story breaks. It could be a return of the water wars or peace in our time.
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