News Flash: History Repeats Itself

-Jim Pokrandt, Communications and Education, Colorado River District

What were the forebearers of the Colorado River District working on at this point in time 75 years ago?

A Shoshone Hydro Plant protocol to maintain flows in the Colorado River, Senate Document 80, which would go on to authorize and spell out operations of the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, and Green Mountain Reservoir.

What did the CRD Board work on at its two-day meeting this week? The very same issues — although with 75 years of updated circumstances. Shoshone, SD 80 and Green Mountain Reservoir are three of the biggest issues on the river, and we haven’t even mentioned Denver Water yet, but will in future posts.

The Water 2012 Book Club posting of the draft Chapt. 5 of author George Sibley’s book: Water Wranglers: A 75-Year History of the Colorado River District, points out that our work is never done. The hard-fought, emotional, high-stakes decisions of the 1930s continue to frame our modern-day work at the Colorado River District – ever balancing water development with protection of the resource for Western Colorado.

Here is what January 1937 looked like. Read the details in the Chapt. 5 posting.

The Western Colorado Protective Association continued to negotiate with the Northern Colorado Water Users Association over the Colorado-Big Thompson Project. A big issue was protecting West Slope water rights. Northern proposed a guarantee of 1,250 cubic feet per second at Shoshone if natural flows were falling in order to avoid paying for a dam and reservoir as the protection mechanism.  The Bureau of Reclamation recommended what would become Green Mountain Reservoir at 152,000 acre feet.

At a meeting in Denver, January 3-4, 1937, the Green Mountain option was hammered out and the wording of Senate Document 80 emerged, setting the stage for the C-BT to be authorized and funded by Congress.

Recently, at its Jan. 17-18, 2012 quarterly meeting, the CRD board was looking at a new-style Shoshone protocol to guarantee important Colorado River flows if the Shoshone plant was down for maintenance and not calling for water. It also worked on a tricky water administration issue at Green Mountain. Finally, Senate Document 80 came up as a filter for judging the proposed Windy Gap Firming Project, which would convey water through the C-BT.

Jim Pokrandt, former journalist, now on the staff of the Colorado River Water Conservation District in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, is a member of the Program Development Committee for the Colorado Foundation for Water Education.  Throughout the year 2012, he will serve as the Water 2012 Book Club blog expert for  George Sibley’s book, Water Wranglers. Please join our online book club discussions.

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