What Happened 75 Years Ago in January
This time in our history 75 years ago
What were the forbearers 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 Colorado River District Board work on during its two-day meeting this past January? The very same issues -- although with 75 years of updated circumstances.
Shoshone, Senate Document 80 and Green Mountain Reservoir remain as three of the biggest issues on the river, and we haven't even mentioned Denver Water yet as we embark on a yearlong retrospective.
The history of the Colorado River District will be the subject of a new history book: "Water Wranglers: The 75-year History of the Colorado River District."
The book will be published in the third quarter of 2012 but the draft of the chapter that details 1937 and the CRD's creation is featured on the CRD website and on the Water 2012 Book Club website.
As author George Sibley points out, the River District's 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 how January 1937 shaped up:
The Western Colorado Protective Association continued to negotiate with the Northern Colorado Water Users Association over the proposed Colorado-Big Thompson Project. (The Colorado River District was not yet formed.)
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 of capacity, siding with Western Colorado beliefs.
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.
At its last meeting, the Colorado River District Board examined a new-style Shoshone Protocol to guarantee flows if the Shoshone hydro plant was down and not calling for water. It also worked on a tricky and technical water administration issue at Green Mountain.
Both of these elements are part of the proposed Colorado River Cooperative Agreement announced by Denver Water and 34 West Slope entities in 2011.
Finally, Senate Document 80 came up as a filter for judging the proposed Windy Gap Firming Project in Grand County that would convey water through the federal C-BT system to water users on the northern Front Range.