Colorado River District news: Work is ongoing to acquire water for a drought pool in Ruedi Reservoir

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You can download a copy of the newsletter here. Thanks to Jim Pokrandt (Colorado River District) for sending it along in email.

The newsletter is dominated by drought news about conditions in the Upper Colorado River basin and the need for conservation. Here’s an excerpt:

A dry year always highlights the importance of the Shoshone Hydro Plant in Glenwood Canyon and the non-consumptive flows it pulls down the river with its senior water right. In recent years, the nearly century old plant has often been offline for maintenance issues and not calling for water.

If Shoshone is not calling for water in the warm months when flows are naturally declining, the effects reach across the rafting industry, municipal water use and irrigation needs.

In recent summers, water users and reservoir owners, including the Colorado River District, the Bureau of Reclamation and Denver Water, have cooperated with a Shoshone Protocol to make the river flow as if the Shoshone Plant were operating with near its 1,250 cubic feet a second water right. The Shoshone outlook for this summer is uncertain. Currently, the plant is not operating at full capacity.

Another important effect of the Shoshone plant calling for water is that it usually holds off the Cameo water rights call by the Grand Valley irrigators. A Cameo call often rebounds up the Roaring Fork River and other tributaries as well as up the mainstem.

The board of directors voted unanimously to support the National Ski Areas Association lawsuit agains the U.S. Forest Service. Here’s the lowdown from the newsletter:

The Colorado ski industry is contesting a federal directive that water rights used in conjunction with ski area permits be assigned to the U.S. Forest Service. The National Ski Areas Association believes this usurps private property rights and has filed suit against the Forest Service.

The Colorado River District Board of Directors passed a resolution to support the ski areas’ case.

It says:

WHEREAS, permit holders that utilize federal lands have filed for and developed Colorado state water rights for the benefit and advancement of their use of the permitted lands; and

WHEREAS, these water rights have been obtained through expenditure of significant funds and are private property rights under Colorado law; and

WHEREAS, the United States Forest Service has recently issued interim directives regarding use and assignment of
water and water rights associated with federal permits for ski area operators; and

WHEREAS, these directives limit the use and assignment of privately developed and privately owned water rights; and

WHEREAS, these directives are likely to discourage private investment in ski areas and associated economic recreational activities;

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RE- SOLVED that the Colorado River Water Conservation District opposes any federal requirement that holders of land use permits assign their privately owned water rights to the United States or otherwise restricts the transfer of their water rights for the benefit of the United States in order for the permittee to obtain, modify or renew federal permits.

Legal counsel was instructed to pre- pareafilingofa“friendofthecourt”brief in the case.

More Colorado River basin coverage here.

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