Permanent protection of the Shoshone Flows will secure multiple benefits to the West Slope and across the state such as:

Agricultural Benefits: Shoshone flows support Colorado’s $11.9 billion agricultural economy in a number of important ways. Water security for Western Slope agriculture is intimately linked to the Upper Colorado Endangered Fish Recovery Program where continued cooperative water management allows for streamlined ESA compliance. Additionally, Shoshone permanency preserves Green Mountain Reservoir’s Historic User Pool (HUP) water supplies. According to Colorado’s Division of Water Resources, without Shoshone flows, the downstream Cameo call would be longer and deeper each year (up to 2,260 cfs vs. 1,950 cfs), triggering less opportunity for agricultural diversions, a greater frequency of April calls, and an insufficient replacement of supplies for some West Slope augmentation plans.

Water Quality Improvements: Communities large and small along the Colorado River mainstem benefit from the enhanced water quality Shoshone flows provide, distilling pollutants in the source drinking water for towns like New Castle, Rifle,  Clifton, Parachute, and the greater Grand Junction area served by Ute Water Conservancy District. Without the higher flows of clean and cold headwater sourced supplies provided by the Shoshone call, a higher pollutant concentration creates increased costs for municipal drinking and wastewater treatment.

Ecosystem Benefits and Endangered Species Act Compliance: The Colorado River downstream of Rifle is habitat for four fish listed under the Endangered Species Act. Without the exercise of the Shoshone call, the stretch of the Colorado River known as the 15-Mile Reach in and around Grand Junction would have significantly less flow during large periods of the year, especially in dry years, when Shoshone can contribute half of the flow in the 15-Mile Reach.  All Colorado River water users rely upon the benefits of the Shoshone flows as a bedrock for the success of the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program and continued compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA), which provides compliance protections for over 1,250 projects in Colorado.

Recreation Economy: Shoshone flows benefit Colorado communities both upstream and downstream of the call. Colorado’s robust recreational economy relies heavily on the Colorado River mainstem, with Shoshone flows strengthening the state’s iconic river recreation industry throughout Grand, Summit, Eagle, Garfield, and Mesa counties. River recreation in Colorado contributes $14.6 billion annually to the state’s GDP, with nearly $4 billion coming directly from the Colorado River basin on the Western Slope. As temperatures rise and streams diminish, Shoshone permanency provides security for this economic industry, protecting the recreational fishery and boating that sustain local businesses and attract water-based recreators.

Maintaining Stream Flow Through Upper Colorado River Wild & Scenic Alternative Management Plan River Sections: The Shoshone water rights command higher flows and associated lower water temperatures through key segments with recreational fishing and wildlife habitat identified as Outstandingly Remarkable Values (ORVs) of the Upper Colorado River. The Upper Colorado River Wild & Scenic Stakeholder Group’s Alternative Management Plan lists the Shoshone water right as one of four long-term protection measures for the streamflow influenced ORVs – thus providing a critical role in removing the burdens of a potential federal Wild and Scenic designation on the Colorado River from Kremmling to No Name.