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But a specific concern for the Western Slope arises from the Front Range’s heavy reliance on post-compact transmountain diversions, which account for about 60% of Front Range use.Front Range water managers seem to have two options in the face of a compact call: Buy up land on the Western Slope with senior water rights, and then fallow the land and send the water downstream; or ask the state to not strictly apply the priority system, based on the dates of water rights, in order to avoid junior, post-compact, rights being curtailed.The ratio of all residents to sex offenders in Washington Court House is 472 to 1.

Coloradans use, or deplete, an annual average of 2.5 million acre-feet of water from the state’s various river basins that send water down the Colorado River system to Lake Powell, according to a new study on water use and water rights presented Thursday in Grand Junction by the Colorado River District to more than 130 water managers and users.

Of the 2.5 million of annual average consumptive use, the study found that 1.6 million is tied to pre-Colorado River Compact water rights that are not subject to curtailment under the terms of the 1922 compact, which requires that the upper-basin states of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico send a certain amount of water to the lower-basin states of California, Arizona and Nevada.

In each basin, most of the water being depleted from the rivers is going to grow hay, grass and alfalfa, with smaller portions being used to irrigate orchards and row crops, and still smaller portions being used to provide water to people and their lawns in cities and towns.

Most water users in Colorado are now considering ways to use less water, and most also are concerned about new uses in the system, which could hasten a compact call.

But that leaves 932,000 acre-feet of current consumptive water use that is subject to compact curtailment, because the use of the water is tied to post-compact water rights.

The study, which drills down into water use in the various river sub-basins on the Western Slope, found that of the 932,000 acre-feet of post-compact water use, 626,200 acre-feet is from the Colorado River Basin, which includes the main stem of the Colorado and the tributaries that drain the Roaring Fork, Eagle, Blue and Fraser river basins in Pitkin, Eagle, Summit and Grand counties.The study found that if the state needed to send 100,000 acre-feet downriver to the lower basin, it would have to curtail post-compact water rights dating to July 1957.That’s a notable date, because the water rights for the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project — which diverts about 52,000 acre-feet a year from the headwaters of the Fryingpan and Roaring Fork rivers — have a 1957 priority date and could be curtailed early in the process.But the numbers in the study showing the high reliance on post-compact water rights help illustrate how intertwined the Western Slope and the Front Range are in the face of a compact call.“This really is a statewide issue, not just a West Slope issue, just by virtue of the fact that 60% of post-compact use in Colorado is by transmountain users,” John Currier, the river district’s chief engineer, said at Thursday’s meeting.The study also sought to determine whether future depletions from the larger Colorado River upper-basin river system would increase the likelihood of a compact call, based on the hydrology recorded from 1988 to 2015.Either way, the reliance by the Front Range on post-compact water rights is expected to ripple right back to the Western Slope.“It’s time to start talking with our colleagues on the Front Range,” Jim Pokrandt, the river district’s director of community affairs and the chair of the Colorado Basin Roundtable, said at the conclusion of Thursday’s meeting.

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