NSAA litigates USFS water rights clause

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From the Vail Daily (Laura Glendenning):

[Boulder-based attorney Glenn Porzak] said he’s been to Washington four times in the last three months to try to work out a solution with the Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to no avail, which is why the association filed the lawsuit against the Forest Service in federal court Monday.

“The Forest Service does not have the authority to take the ski industry water rights they’re seeking,” Porzak said. “Vail Resorts is closely monitoring this entire lawsuit and the whole issue that is being raised.”

Vail Resorts, a member of the National Ski Areas Association, has private water rights at both Vail and Beaver Creek, as well as the company’s other mountain resorts. The Forest Service’s new regulations are to take back private water rights from the resorts and tie those water rights to the land, but Porzak said the association wants the 2004 water rights clause to remain in effect.

In that clause, any on-mountain water rights acquired after 2004 have to have a joint ownership between the ski resort and the Forest Service, however the ownership of water rights obtained before 2004 would remain solely with the entity that initially obtained those rights. The off-mountain water rights — which for Vail Resorts includes off-site reservoirs such as the Eagle Park Reservoir, among others — remain in the hands of the ski resorts that obtained them under the 2004 clause, however the new regulations would change that.

There was a lot of negotiation done before the 2004 clause went into effect, Porzak said, to protect those off-site water rights. The new Forest Service rules would give those off-site water rights — rights that ski resorts have paid millions for — to the Forest Service without any compensation to the ski resorts, Porzak said.

More water law coverage here.

The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments comes out strongly against proposed state nutrient standards for wastewater discharged to surface streams

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From The Teller County News (Pat Hill):

At issue is the commission’s proposal to mandate regulations that would decrease the amount of nutrients that flow into Colorado’s stream beds. The regulations govern the operation of wastewater treatment facilities and would require significant reduction in the amount of phosphorous and nitrogen discharged from the facilities. “We took a position against it; this could cost up to $2 billion just to the small water providers but could go as high as $20 billion annually,” said Jim Ignatius, PPACG treasurer and Teller County commission chair. “They are basing their policy decision on speculative numbers. It was very discouraging to learn that the state might want to do this.”

The proposed regulations are at odds with Hickenlooper’s executive order which directs state agencies not to adopt requirements more restrictive than federal law, or, if so, ensure that state funding is available to cover the costs, states the letter in part.

Calling into question the evidence, the letter states that the PPACG does not object to improved treatment when there is rational scientific basis to conclude that nitrogen discharge is, in fact, causing an impairment to a water body.

More wastewater coverage here.

Arkansas Basin roundtable: Preserving agriculture is the goal of new committee

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Arkansas Basin Roundtable has formed a committee to work on moving state water leaders to embrace that sentiment, but still is wrestling with what’s needed to convince others in the state that farm water is important, too. “We need to fortify our arguments and work on a grant request,” said Reeves Brown, a Beulah rancher who is pushing for the idea that ag water needs to be given high-level state consideration. “Even after we get the data, it’s going to be a long road. I hope to get the ball rolling.”[…]

The committee is working with faculty at Colorado State University in Fort Collins to come up with research criteria. It will meet again on Jan. 24.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

Flaming Gorge task force meeting recap

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The task force met Thursday at Silverthorne to organize its work over the next six months. Members from the Arkansas River basin include Gary Barber, chairman of the roundtable; Betty Konarski, former mayor of Monument; and Reed Dils, who is representing environmental and recreation interests. Other members represent roundtables from throughout the state, as well as various water interests. “Today, we went through a lengthy discussion of protocols and got to know each other,” Barber said. “We decided which documents, reports and studies we need to look at.”

The group agreed to review preliminary findings with the roundtables before hosting larger public meetings, and to invite the project’s proponents and Wyoming water interests to address the task force.

More Flaming Gorge task force coverage here.