With the completion of Blue Mesa Reservoir in 1966, an opportunity was created for Taylor Park Reservoir to be operated not only for irrigation of the Uncompahgre Valley but also to provide benefits in the Upper Gunnison Basin. In 1975, the Upper Gunnison District entered into the Taylor Park Reservoir Operation and Storage Exchange Agreement with the Colorado River Water Conservation District, the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association (UVWUA), and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The purposes of the Agreement are to stabilize flows on the Taylor and Gunnison Rivers, to facilitate the management and exchange of water between Taylor Park Reservoir and Blue Mesa Reservoir, to provide flood control, to supplement irrigation uses, and to optimize fishery and recreation conditions in the reservoir and the Taylor and Gunnison Rivers.
The exchange of water authorized under the 1975 Agreement continues to the present day and operates as follows: When releases from Taylor Park Reservoir are greater than the amount required by the UVWUA for immediate irrigation use at the Gunnison Tunnel, the excess is stored in Blue Mesa Reservoir for the credit of the UVWUA. When releases from Taylor Park Reservoir are not sufficient to meet the needs of the UVWUA at the Tunnel, the United States releases from the Aspinall Unit the water credited to the UVWUA. In the event that the UVWUA’s credit in the Aspinall Unit is insufficient to meet its needs for irrigation, the United States releases water stored under its Aspinall Unit decrees to the Gunnison Tunnel and the United States receives credit for a like amount in Taylor Park Reservoir. In 1979 the Agreement was amended to allow the UVWUA credits to be carried forward from year to year in Blue Mesa Reservoir.
Paragraph 8 of the Agreement provides:
The parties hereto agree that an application for a water right may be made by the Gunnison District on all surplus flows in Taylor River above Taylor Park Reservoir . . . Taylor Park Reservoir will be operated in such a manner to assist the Gunnison District in using such water provided all other purposes herein and the original purposes of the said reservoir are accommodated.
Based on this agreement, the District obtained a decree for the second filling of Taylor Park Reservoir.
The District and the Colorado River Water Conservation District pay an annual fee to the UVWUA for the benefits received in the Upper Gunnison Basin under the Agreement.