The Colorado River Water Conservation District, along with a coalition of Western Slope organizations and governments, has reached a “historic” agreement to purchase and protect $99 million water rights from private power producer Xcel Energy — rights that experts and administrators say are essential for the wellbeing of western Colorado and the Colorado River itself.

“A hundred years from now, people will look back on today and say, that was an important day,” said State Rep. Marc Catlin, R-Montrose, during a purchase agreement signing ceremony on Tuesday in Glenwood Springs.

Kathy Chandler-Henry, river district board president and Eagle County commissioner, signed the purchase agreement at the ceremony alongside Xcel Energy Community Relations Manager Hollie Velasquez Horvath.

The signing ceremony also included speeches from state legislators, commissioners from four counties along the Colorado River and representatives from nonprofit organizations dedicated to the environment and recreation.