Consultants also are working on finding a location to which to move Aspen’s conditional water-storage rights and determining whether the city needs storage at all.
The issue is twofold: With climate change, there is not enough water for the upper basin to develop new projects without the risk of a compact call; and if the past three decades are any indication, the upper basin is not on track to use more water in the future anyway.
Supporters of the designation on the Crystal want two main restrictions aimed at protecting the free-flowing nature of the river: no dams on the main stem and no diversions out of the basin. “If we don’t do something, there is a very real possibility of further water development in the Crystal River Valley,” Pitkin County Attorney John Ely told the Crystal River Caucus.
The state is concerned that ponds without water rights are using water through evaporation and harming senior water rights holders. In the over-appropriated Arkansas basin, one official believes that tens of thousands of acre feet could eventually be saved through stronger pond management.
But the decree, while granting Rangely-based Rio Blanco the amount of storage it was seeking, doesn’t allow the district all the water uses that it initially wanted.
Colorado Stone Quarries officials must address public comments, propose plan to mitigate damage caused by creek relocation.
Division 6 Water Judge Michael A O’Hara III, in a Dec. 23 order, determined that Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District has not provided enough evidence that its current existing water rights won’t meet demands in the categories of municipal, irrigation, domestic, in-reservoir piscatorial, commercial and augmentation for Yellow Jacket Water Conservancy District.
The documents, obtained through a Colorado Open Records Act request, also underscore the extent to which fear of a compact call is shaping this proposed dam and reservoir project between Meeker and Rangely.
They also say the company, which was found to have violated the Clean Water Act for moving the section of Yule Creek without first applying for a permit, should undertake river restoration projects elsewhere in the Crystal River basin as compensatory mitigation for damage the company caused when it moved the waterway to construct a road to better access its marble quarry.
According to the framework, project proponents should get buy-in from local governments in the form of a letter of support from the board of county commissioners in the county in which the project is located.