Water truce in Colorado

 

About 80 percent of Colorado's population lives on the east side of the Great Divide, and about 80 percent of the state's precipitation falls on the west side.  

Moving the water to the people has been an expensive and contentious process for the past century or so. As the saying goes, "Whiskey is for drinkin', water is for fightin'," and there's been plenty of fightin', most of it in court.

But old antagonists on both sides of the Divide have reached some agreements. They won't stop further diversions from the Western Slope, but future takings will be from peak stream flows, and the streambeds will be configured to provide better fish habitat at low flows.

There are also some complex issues regarding re-use of diverted water. All in all, it's one of the biggest Colorado water stories  in decades.

Essays in the Range blog are not written by High Country News. The authors are solely responsible for the content.

Ed Quillen is a freelance writer in Salida, Colo.

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