Western Colorado groups band together to buy Shoshone water rights

Shoshone intake
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  • A group of Western Slope agencies will buy $99 million in water rights.
  • Deal will keep more water in the Colorado River for various needs.
  • Clifton Water District & others chip in to fund the water purchase.
  • The goal is to preserve water flows for fish, farms, and people.
  • The deal shows growing concern and commitment to protect the river.

February 28, 2024 — Last December, the Colorado River Water Conservation District spearheaded a coalition of Western Slope groups to secure a deal to purchase water rights from Xcel Energy for $99 million.  Their goal was to keep up to 1 million acre-feet of water in the Colorado River annually.

The rights, established in 1902 and 1929, have historically supported the Shoshone Hydropower Plant. This deal preserves that function but allows more flexibility in water use. The benefits aren’t just about power – they include boosting endangered fish populations, diluting pollutants for communities, and providing critical irrigation for farms.

The River District has already committed $20 million and seeks more funding. In a February 27, 2024, press releaseOpens in a new tab., the River District highlighted financial commitments from Clifton Water District ($250,000) and the Grand Valley Water Users Association ($100,000).

Clifton Water District stressed the deal’s importance for clean drinking water across multiple communities, while the Grand Valley Water Users Association emphasized the protection of agriculture-dependent economies in the region.

Ultimately, the coalition wants to convert the rights to instream flow rights, ensuring the river maintains optimal levels even with plant operation variations. This move further highlights their commitment to keep the Colorado River healthy and dependable now and for future generations.


GENERAL VIEW OF SHOSHONE INTAKE DAM, VIEW TO THE NORTHEASTOpens in a new tab.. – Shoshone Hydroelectric Plant Complex, 60111 U.S. Highway 6, Glenwood Springs, Garfield County, Colorado (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain).


Since 1995, Deborah has owned and operated LegalTech LLC with a focus on water rights. Before moving to Arizona in 1986, she worked as a quality control analyst for Honeywell and in commercial real estate, both in Texas. She learned about Arizona's water rights from the late and great attorney Michael Brophy of Ryley, Carlock & Applewhite. Her side interests are writing (and reading), Wordpress programming and much more.

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