By Jack Bombardier, Eagle County

Kudos to the Colorado River District for spearheading the purchase of the Shoshone water rights from Xcel Energy. Irrigators, whitewater recreationists, anglers and endangered fish downstream will all feel the positive effects of this deal for many years to come.

Because of its 1902 seniority, the Shoshone water right guarantees the historic reliability of flows in the Colorado River at the location where Xcel’s plant sits in Glenwood Canyon. In times of smaller snowpacks and reduced streamflows, its importance will only become more magnified in the future.

Although its water right is old, the future operation of the plant itself is not assured. For the last several years, its century-old infrastructure and tenuous location in Glenwood Canyon have left it frequently unable to produce electricity, its primary reason for existence. Adding instream flow to the water right ensures that the water will flow, whether the plant is operating or not.