From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel editorial staff:
The BLM has proposed an unusal plan for resolving the issue, under which the state may file for instream water rights for the two streams that run through a wilderness area in the [Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area]. The concept is one the Colorado Water Conservation Board should accept when it takes up the question in May. At the heart of the proposed solution is an agreement written into the federal legislation that created the NCA: If the state files for adequate instream water rights for the two wilderness creeks, the Interior Department won’t assert a federal water right…
The BLM has asked the state to seek a variable instream water right that recognizes streamflow can change dramatically. That’s not how Colorado instream flow rights have traditionally been appropriated in the past. A set minimum amount has been the typical filing. But a variable rights have been filed for a handful of other streams in the state.
Private water rights are also an issue. Even though the headwaters of both Big and Little Dominguez Creeks are both high up on the Uncompahgre Plateau in the Uncompahgre National Forest, there is private land within the national forest that depends on water from the two creeks. The BLM proposal recognizes that, and acknowledges rights will be senior to the state’s instream flow filings, and there will be some modest amount of water for additional future development of those rights.
More CWCB coverage here.