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County wants company on water project review

Cliff Thompson/Daily Staff Writer

It’s a new twist on an old intergovernmental agreement, said Tom Stone, Eagle County Commissioner. In its preliminary phase, the proposal calls for an agreement between adjoining counties to jointly review and regulate the potential impacts of water-supply and water-storage proposals.

“It’s more of a good neighbor policy,” said Stone. “It allows us to consider the effects of a transmountain diversion on a neighboring county.”

It’s a policy that has been a couple of years in the works, Stone said.



The policy is being presented to water boards within Eagle County for review and possible modification. Stone said he estimates the policy could be adopted in six months.

“Government doesn’t move very fast,” he said.



Water attorney Glenn Porzak said the policy could potentially hamstring the county’s efforts to address problems created by the diversion of water.

“What’s good for one county may not be good for another,” he said. “When you get to actual application you may have a situation where one county has achieved an agreement with a transmountain diverter that won’t be good for another.”

Eagle County and the cities of Colorado Springs and Aurora battled all the way to the Colorado Supreme Court in the 1980s and 1990s over developing the Homestake II reservoir south of Red Cliff. Eagle County prevailed, setting the precedent that county’s land use powers supersede a water users’ right to develop a water project.



That expensive court battle, paid for by the cities, resulted in a new cooperative agreement called the Eagle River Memorandum of Understanding. It stipulates that water projects will be developed jointly and water will be shared between water users on the Western Slope and the cities of Colorado Springs and Aurora.

The cities get two-thirds of the water while Western Slope water users will receive one-third of the water.

Cliff Thompson can be reached via e-mail at: cthompson@vaildaily.com or by calling 949-0555 ext. 450.


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