Telluride and Idarado settle lawsuit

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From the Telluride Daily Planet (Katie Klingsporn):

The litigation revolved around a plan the town has been pursuing for years — securing an ample source of water for its residents by tapping Blue Lake, a body of very pure water that sits in the rocky alpine basin above Bridal Veil Falls. The town’s plan entails piping the water down to a treatment plant above the Pandora Mill, and then dispersing it. The town set out to complete the project years ago — doing engineering, winning voter approval for a $10 million bond, and securing a piece of land (gifted by Idarado) for the treatment plant. But as the town was obtaining an array of deeds and easements necessary for construction, access and water rights, it stumbled over language in a 1992 settlement agreement with Idarado that would give the mining company the right to recall not only water rights, but also proportionate ownership in water storage and conveyance structures. When Idarado refused to omit the language, the town sued, claiming the mining company breached the contract and cost the town money by delaying its project. And Idarado replied with a countersuit, answering that it only wanted its rights protected.

A trial took place in January in Montrose. The mixed ruling that followed the trial awarded both sides some of what they fought for. For Telluride, there was good news: The town retained enough rights to move forward with the long-awaited implementation of its new water system and treatment plant. And for the mining company, the ruling meant it was able to hold onto some of the property and water rights it sought. Also: The judge ruled that when the town went on to Idarado property to do construction on a road, its actions constituted a taking (hence, last week’s settlement). But for the town, the bottom line is that: now it can continue pursuing its plans for a water system on the east end of the valley.

More San Miguel watershed coverage here.

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