History and Accomplishments


The Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District was established in 1959 by a vote of the taxpayers pursuant to the Water Conservancy Act to conserve, protect, and defend the waters within the Upper Gunnison River Basin. The District was originally created to act as the legal entity tasked with dealing with the US Bureau of Reclamation for the construction and operation of the Upper Gunnison Project.

The Upper Gunnison project was never constructed, but the District’s responsibilities have evolved over the past sixty-five years with a focus of water needs within the basin. Its activities now include financial, legal, political and engineering support for water rights litigation, legislation and other political activities, and support for a wide variety of local water users’ interests including agriculture, recreation, environmental, and municipal uses. The District’s responsibilities also include negotiations with federal, state, regional, and local entities on matters such as reservoir operations, endangered species, and many other issues.

The major accomplishments of the District include the 1975 Taylor Park Reservoir Operation and Storage Exchange Agreement; the Taylor Park Reservoir second fill decree; opposition of transbasin diversions, specifically in the Union Park Reservoir project litigation; the 2000 Aspinall Subordination Agreement; the Aspinall Unit contract plan for augmentation; Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park federal reserved water right settlement; Recreational In-Channel Diversion water right adjudication; the Meridian Lake Reservoir Project and plan for augmentation; and the Lake San Cristobal Project and plan for augmentation.