The mining company said the Army Corps required them to choose compensatory mitigation that was “in-kind” to the impacts on Yule Creek and as close as possible to the affected area.
That divisiveness reveals the tension between traditional water users like agricultural producers, who take water out of the rivers, and recreational and environmental water advocates, whose goal is to keep water in the river.
Still, the threat from out-of-state, urban interests loomed large at Thursday’s hearing.
But even though things on the whole are better than the previous two years, the lingering effects of drought means reservoirs are depleted and may take several seasons to rebound.
Cities have long dictated water policy, even as river recreation represents a growing segment of the state’s economy.
Something that may influence if and how Ruedi fills this year is a phenomenon called the “April hole.”
As this angered some in Colorado, and the amount of water is proving to be the proverbial drop in the bucket, questions of the impact of the releases and were they worth it generate debate.
The drafters of House Bill 1151 say it is aimed at efficient water use and would increase communities’ resilience to drought and climate change, reduce the sale of agriculture water rights to meet increased demand in cities, and protect river flows.
Some water rights holders may be reluctant to pare back the amount of their right, even if they can’t use all the water to which their decree entitles them on paper.
The proposal is an attempt to carve out a spot for — and recognize the importance of — Colorado’s outdoor-recreation economy in the hierarchy of water uses, which prioritizes the oldest water rights, usually belonging to agriculture and cities.