Shoshone Dam Construction

Staff Writer

Three Western Slope counties have pledged $4 million toward the public acquisition of the Shoshone water rights, according to a Tuesday press release from the Colorado River Water Conservation District.

Grand, Eagle and Mesa counties’ commitments bring total funding for the Shoshone acquisition to $48.05 million, a little under half of the $99 million required, the press release said.

The river district is leading a coalition of 20 local governments and water entities to acquire the rights, which are used to operate the Shoshone Hydropower Plant in Glenwood Canyon. Water managers say the Shoshone rights keep healthy flows in the Colorado River throughout the year, benefiting endangered fish species, anglers, boaters, irrigators and municipal water utilities on the Western Slope. Regional water users have feared that Xcel Energy, which currently owns the rights, could abandon or sell them if the aging powerplant ceases operation.