In the latest from Aspen Journalism’s Water Desk, the saga of what it takes to get a water right for recreation. According to some observers, it’s an uneven playing field, and a case in point is the recently decreed water right, long sought by the city of Glenwood Springs, that would secure water for the benefit of rafting on the popular stretch of the Colorado River between No Name and Two Rivers Park.
Water in Colorado is divided up based on a system of prior appropriation, meaning the oldest water rights have the highest priority. So the new Glenwood Canyon water right, which has an appropriation date of Dec. 31, 2013, is already junior to any right older than that, including existing allocations for cities and farms that command the largest share of water in the state’s river systems.
But in order to actually secure the water right, known as a “recreational in-channel diversion” or RICD, Glenwood had to reach agreement with municipal water providers on the Front Range, who had filed statements of opposition in the case. Those water providers — in Denver, Aurora and Colorado Springs — will likely eventually seek to develop more Western Slope water to supply their growing populations. To gain their support for the RICD application, Glenwood made a major concession — a carve out of sorts for up to 30,000 acre feet of new water development upstream of Glenwood Canyon. The decree enacts restrictions on Glenwood’s ability to call for more than 1,250 cfs of water for its recreational right if such a call would hinder water deliveries tied to these future water development projects.
Water Desk Editor Heather Sackett’s story, “Glenwood Springs secures water right for new whitewater parks,” lays out all the details, so please check it out. If you want to go deeper, Aspen Journalism’s archives have years’ worth of stories about the initial proposal for, and opposition to, the water right.
Also this week, our Tracking the Curve project is documenting the further decline in COVID-19 indicators both in our valley and statewide, while we are back to following streamflow numbers as part of our weekly Data Dashboard, now that the runoff is beginning to swell area rivers.
Thank you for reading and supporting Aspen Journalism.
Curtis Wackerle, editor and executive director
Stay up to date on news briefs not to be missed and a recap of the state’s best reporting on water policy by subscribing to Aspen Journalism’s new monthly newsletter, The Runoff, from our Water Desk.
Glenwood Springs secures water right for whitewater parks
Agreements with opposers allow for future water development
By Heather Sackett | April 6, 2022
Cities have long dictated water policy, even as river recreation represents a growing segment of the state’s economy.
Data dashboard: Spring temperatures boost Crystal and Colorado rivers’ streamflows
Lake Powell’s water level reaches 3,523 feet — or two feet below target elevation.
By Laurine Lassalle | April 6, 2022
• Maximum air temperature in Aspen increased from 34°F on March 22 to 64°F on March 27.
• Crystal River streamflow level above Avalanche Creek jumped from 62 cfs on March 24 to 192 on March 29.
Tracking the Curve
Documenting COVID-19 in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties
By Laurine Lassalle | April 5, 2022
Eagle County’s incidence rate dropped from about 46 on March 31 to 27 per 100,000 on April 4. Hospitalizations across the state hit a new record low, with 84 people in the hospital.
Wildfire risk is just a warm, windy day away for Roaring Fork Valley
“As part of this year’s precaution, four full-time summer workers will be hired specifically for the severity patrol. They will drive a fire truck around particularly susceptible portions of the sprawling district, such as Missouri Heights. The crew will also work with homeowners who want to “harden” their property to increase protection from wildfire, Thompson said.”
Source: aspentimes.com | Read more
Sustainable Settings to sell Thompson Creek Ranch
“Sustainable Settings is ready for its next experiment, which begins with the sale of Thompson Creek Ranch at a starting price of $24.25 million in a for-sale-by-owner offering. The price will increase every week that the property does not sell; Brook LeVan said that he envisions “ten threes” in the sales price: $33,333,333.33.”
Source: aspendailynews.com | Read more
Vacation rental operators in Snowmass Village express concern about possible limit on number of stays, days
“Based on those proposals, single-family homes would be limited to seven bookings per year, with a minimum stay of seven nights per booking and a maximum of 56 nights of bookings each year. Multifamily units in complexes without a front desk would be limited to one booking per seven-day period with no minimum number of nights, for a maximum of 52 rentals per year.”
Source: aspentimes.com | Read more
Will skiing survive? Resorts struggle through a winter of climate and housing woes
“This last winter was supposed to be a post-Covid rebound for America’s $50 billion ski industry. But persistent drought linked to climate change, labor shortages and frustrated customers stuck in traffic and in long lift lines has made getaways less attractive.”
Source: npr.org | Read more
The source of Colorado’s high country housing crisis: a doubling of home prices and sales
“It all boils down to one thing: buyers are spending huge for homes in the hills. The amount spent on real estate in six of Colorado’s resort-anchored counties doubled from 2019 to 2021. Average prices in Eagle, Grand, Pitkin, Routt, Summit and San Miguel in 2021 were up 57% from 2019.”
Source: coloradosun.com | Read more
Arizona faces a reckoning over water
“The question now, as it has been since 1911 when the first big reservoir was completed to supply Phoenix with water, is one of longevity. Can this desert bounty be sustained for another 100 years, or even another 50?”
Source: hcn.org | Read more
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