Water issues were front and center at Club 20’s meeting yesterday


From NBC11News.com (Taylor Temby):

It would only make sense that it was one of the major focuses of Wednesday’s Club 20 meeting. One issue that hit particularly close to home was the Ski Area Water Rights Clause. “For years the ski areas and the forest service have gotten along fine with the ski areas acquiring their own water rights to operates, whether it’s wells for mountain restaurants or base areas or water supplies for base making,” [water law practitioner Scott Balcomb] said. But that changed last year. Club 20 is concerned the forest service is now looking to enforce a rule that would require ski areas to put any new water rights it develops in the name of the federal government in order to get a new permit…

This issue affects Powderhorn Mountain Resort because of its recent change in management. “Powderhorn is right on the cutting edge of this issue because of the change in ownership and the need to get a new permit last fall,” Balcomb said. Club 20 argues this would be taking the mountain’s property and worries similar rules could be implemented in other industries if it survives in the ski industry. One other reason Club 20 is concerned? An effort to change water rights in the state.

“[There are] two initiatives, Initiative no. 3 and no. 45,” Colorado Water Congress executive director Doug Kemper said. Kemper says these initiatives would make water rights subject to a second look, and could ultimately change who has access to public and private water. An appeal has been filed with the Colorado Supreme Court and Kemper says he’s concerned about three things. “The property rights, the access to land. It deals with the Appropriation Doctrine, so it deals with water rights and also with water quality act as well,” he said. This could be bad news for some property owners, because water running through private land could be open to the public.

More water law coverage here.

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