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Weekly water roundup: Colorado Supreme Court finds Pagosa Springs' water rights filing speculative


San Juan headwaters photo: Coyote Gulch archives

Short takes from the last couple of weeks in Colorado water:

It will be back to water court for Pagosa Springs' conditional water rights for Dry Gulch Reservoir

It's quite one thing to finance new storage in this day and age but getting a decree to divert and store water might be harder to accomplish. The Pagosa Springs Water and Sanitation Distict is proposing to build the Dry Gulch Reservoir to capture San Juan River flows to serve future municipal growth but is embroiled in a legal struggle to get the project watered.

Colorado Trout Unlimited has now argued successfully -- both in water court and now at the Colorado Supreme Court -- against a 100 year planning horizon for the project. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled last week that a 50 year planning horizon was reasonable but sent the district back to water court to hash out conditional water rights.

Conditional water rights are diversions granted by the water court that must be made "absolute" by the municipality as they put the water to beneficial use. In this case the diversion is from the San Juan River.

BLM to offer geothermal leases in the Arkansas Valley near Mount Princeton Hot Springs

It will be interesting to note the companies lining up in Denver at Thursday's geothermal lease sale being held by the Bureau of Land Management. 799.2 acres are up for grabs. It should be a hoot.

Colorado State Parks to close most reservoirs this winter to help in the fight against invasive mussels

Colorado State Parks to close most reservoirs this winter to help in the fight against invasive mussels. Here's a list courtesy of the Northern Colorado Business Journal:

Parks that have already closed ramps include: Barr Lake, Bonny Lake, Crawford, Elkhead Reservoir, Harvey Gap, Highline Lake, Lathrop, Mancos, John Martin Reservoir, North Sterling, Paonia, Pearl Lake, Ridgway, Rifle Gap, San Luis, Stagecoach, Sweitzer and Vega. Steamboat Lake State Park closed its ramps Friday. State parks with ramps closing Dec. 1 include Boyd Lake, Chatfield, Cherry Creek, Eleven Mile, Jackson Lake, Navajo, Spinney Mountain and Trinidad Lake. However, those ramps could close earlier if the lakes freeze.

Montrose city council gets Uncompahgre River riparian corridor recommendations

100 feet on either side of the river will be managed as a "no-go zone" and a "slow-go zone," according to the Montrose Daily Press. Folks are hoping that the recommendations will also protect private property rights.

Public comment sought for Denver Water's Moffat Supply Project

Make sure you get out to the public meetings for the draft EIS for the project. Denver Water is hoping to bump Gross Dam another 125 feet from 340 feet to 465 feet. The project hopes for 18,000 acre-feet extra supply on the north side of their service area -- Arvada and points below. Opponents warn of stretching the Colorado River headwaters too far.

Grand Water Festival

Grand County fifth graders recently spent a day learning about the importance of conservation and prior appropriation. The event was sponsored by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and the Colorado River District. In Colorado folks introduce their kids to water law early on in life.

Jim Martin named to lead the Colorado Department of Natural Resources

Congratulations are in order. Martin has been Governor Ritter's appointee at the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. He will succeed Harris Sherman who is staking out territory in Washington D.C. after being chosen to lead the Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service by President Obama.

For more info: I follow Colorado water issues at Coyote Gulch.