The Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association is organizing opposition to Crystal River conditional storage rights

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Here’s an in-depth analysis of the potential reservoirs and the conditional water rights associated with them, from Brent Gardner-Smith writing for the Aspen Daily News. Click through and read the whole thing. Here’s an excerpt:

[Osgood Reservoir is] one of two conceptual dams on the books for the upper Crystal, the conditional water rights for which were created by congressional decree in 1958. While it is not clear if anybody actually plans to build these dams, or a smaller version of them, officials are keeping the plans alive in state water court, sustaining the prospect of some sort of water storage project in the area. That’s raising alarm among Crystal Valley residents, many of whom would like to see the conditional water rights abandoned and the Crystal protected for its wild and scenic qualities…

The other potential dam would create what would be known as the Placita Reservoir, to be located upstream near Marble. That is seen as potentially more feasible, as it would not put an entire town underwater…

[Redstone resident Bill Jochems] is a member of the Crystal River Caucus and a veteran of the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association (CVEPA), which fought against the reservoirs in the 1970s, and won. Or so it seemed, until a fresh set of color maps showed conceptual plans for the Osgood and Placita reservoirs are still alive. After reviewing these maps, the caucus voted 34-0 in January approving a motion to ask Pitkin County to fight the conditional water rights associated with them. And then the Crystal Valley Environmental Protection Association sent a letter to Pitkin County, warning the specter of dams is hindering a federal Wild and Scenic River designation. The group is also concerned the potential reservoirs will push back the boundaries of the proposed Hidden Gems wilderness areas, as the maps show and the districts have requested.

The fresh opposition in the Crystal River Valley comes as the two organizations that hold the conditional water rights, the Colorado River Water Conservation District and the West Divide Water Conservation District, are expected to file their diligence reports in state water court in Glenwood Springs by a May deadline for Judge James Boyd to review and rule on…

Today, the River District still holds a conditional right to store 128,728 acre-feet of water behind a 280-foot dam just downstream from Redstone’s historic main street. The Osgood Reservoir, named for Redstone founder John C. Osgood, would be larger than Ruedi Reservoir, which holds 119,000 acre feet. The district also holds a conditional right to store 62,009 acre-feet behind a 285-foot-tall Placita dam, just downstream from the turnoff to Marble, at the site of what was once the largest coal mine along the Crystal.

More Crystal River watershed coverage here and here.

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