By Heather Sackett

Water managers, state and county elected officials and representatives from environmental and recreation organizations all gathered in Glenwood Springs on Tuesday to mark a historic deal intended to keep water in the Colorado River.

The Glenwood Springs-based Colorado River Water Conservation District has inked a nearly $100 million deal with Xcel Energy to buy one of the oldest and biggest non-consumptive water rights on the main stem of the Colorado River, a first step in ensuring the water continues flowing west.

“How does history feel?” Marc Catlin, vice president of the River District and state Representative from District 58, asked the audience. “Feels pretty good today, doesn’t it?”

At a packed meeting at the Hotel Colorado, River District President and Eagle County Commissioner Kathy Chandler-Henry signed a purchase and sale agreement with Xcel Energy for water rights associated with the Shoshone hydropower plant in Glenwood Canyon. The River District and other partners will pay $98.5 million for two water rights: a 1902 right for 1,250 cubic feet per second and another from 1929 for 158 cfs.