21 file against water right | SteamboatToday.com

21 file against water right

Christine Metz

Routt County, two South Routt towns and four metro districts are among the 21 parties that have filed statements of opposition to the city’s application for a recreational water right.

Feb. 29 marked the last day parties could oppose the city’s filing, which was made in December.

City attorney Tony Lettunich said just because a party has filed a statement of opposition does not mean it opposes the filing. The statement of opposition also allows outside parties to monitor the application as it makes its way through water court.

Lettunich said the number of parties who oppose the city’s filing or have serious concerns is in the low teens.

The opposition comes as little surprise to the city, which was warned by nearby towns and water districts that the water right would face legal challenges if done before discussions were held.

Even before the filing deadline, five parties came together to form a legal defense agreement, allowing them to share confidential information if they decided to fight the application. The agreement was among the county, towns of Yampa and Oak Creek, the Upper Yampa River Conservancy District and Morrison Creek Water and Sanitation District.

The five parties all filed statements of opposition.

The city’s water attorney, Glen Porzak, said he would begin meeting with the opponents to see whether resolutions could be found.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board, which under state law has to make a recommendation to the water court on the city’s recreational water right application, also filed a statement of opposition. The city expects to present its case to the conservation board in May, Lettunich said.

Along with the Morrison Creek District, two other metro districts filed statements of opposition: Steamboat II Metropolitan District and the Lake Catamount No. 1 Metro District.

The opponents also included companies and individual landowners. Trout Unlimited, a nonprofit dedicated to river conservation, filed a statement of opposition to the city’s application and has been involved in other state water cases for recreational water rights.

VGS Enterprises Inc., The Wharton Development Group LLC and Pinnacle Peak Ranch — three companies that filed water right application less than a month before the city — all filed statements of opposition.

Other filers were Lafarge West Inc., Catamount Development Inc. and the Routt County Farm Bureau. Individuals who filed statements of opposition were Dean and Jim Rossi and Michael and Susanne Holloran.

On Dec. 26, the city filed water rights on the Yampa River for two river structures: the D Hole and Charlie’s Hole. The two structures are kayaking play holes, but the city’s application indicates that the water right also would benefit other recreational uses such as boating, tubing, rafting, floating and canoeing.

The city is requesting a recreational in-channel diversion from April 15 to Oct. 31. The maximum flow requested is 1,700 cubic feet per second in the first half of June, and the minimum requested is 120 cfs from July 15 to Oct. 31.

The application also stipulates the claim would be limited to 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

On Dec. 16, the City Council unanimously voted to file for recreational water rights before the end of the year.

— To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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