By  Dennis Webb

In a matter of hours Tuesday, Mesa, Eagle and Grand counties committed a combined $4 million toward an effort to buy historic water rights on the Colorado River, nearly doubling the amount of support pledged so far by local entities.

Mesa County and Grand County commissioners on Tuesday each pledged $1 million from their counties toward the Colorado River District’s efforts to buy Xcel Energy’s water rights for the Shoshone hydroelectric power plant in Glenwood Canyon for $99 million. Eagle County commissioners committed $2 million.

Local water entities and governments have now pledged a combined $8.05 million toward the purchase effort. It is aimed at permanently securing the flows guaranteed by the water rights regardless of what happens to the plant, for the benefit of agriculture, municipalities, recreation and imperiled fish and the river’s ecosystem.