San Miguel River: The CWCB approved an instream flow right last week

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Here’s the release from Western Resource Advocates:

The San Miguel River has been victim to the effects of human development and water diversions to the point where the river’s health is a concern. But last week, with the help of expert testimony provided by WRA, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) approved a significant instream flow water right for the San Miguel. This right would keep enough water in a stretch of the river to prevent the decline of fish and plant species and protect the river from future diversions.

Beginning high in the alpine environment of San Juan Mountains above Telluride, and ending in the desert at its confluence with the Dolores River, the San Miguel River is still largely free-flowing. It is also extremely important to the rural and resort economies of the communities through which it flows.

The river supports healthy populations of three fish species whose numbers are decreasing elsewhere in the basin: the roundtail chub, flannelmouth sucker and bluehead sucker. The river is also important for several globally imperiled plant species.

WRA’s testimony was key to supporting and shoring-up a CWCB staff recommendation which was strongly contested by several opposing parties. The CWCB’s approval is a tremendous victory, though the instream flow water right must be approved by a water court prior to being implemented. This win builds on WRA’s tradition of securing healthy water flows for the West’s most special waterways.

WRA also represented The Wilderness Society, and received assistance from the Sheep Mountain Alliance and noted fish biologist John Woodling in making its case before the Board. Congratulations to WRA’s water team, especially Rob Harris and Laura Belanger.

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