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.
A nearly $1 million project is “trying to make a natural riffle” where in the past boaters had to navigate over falls created by a weir channeling water to a midvalley diversion ditch. Heavy equipment in and around the river near Willits Lane will see “grade control structures” and other enhancements create a safer passage that could open up that section of water to more recreational use.
But while many have heralded the Windy Gap Firming Project as the beginning of a new era of cooperation in water management, not everyone agrees that mitigating environmental damage to the river is enough.
Denver Water may offer lessons useful to water managers, who will be dealing with impacts from the East Troublesome Fire for years, perhaps decades.
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.
Occurrence tied to warming trend, may be influenced by ranching history.
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.