City, state water debate set to end Friday | SteamboatToday.com

City, state water debate set to end Friday

Dana Strongin

The city’s water battle with the state is set to end Friday, three days behind schedule.

The city of Steamboat Springs and the Colorado Water Conservation Board spent the past seven days in court, presenting evidence and witness testimony about the city’s application for a recreational water right.

The city applied for the water right in December 2003. It is intended to help the city gain the authority to request minimum flows for recreational activities on the C and D kayaking holes of the Yampa River, called the boating park.

The trial, held in District Water Court with Judge Michael O’Hara presiding, was set to end Tuesday, but witness testimony took longer than scheduled.

The state called a few witnesses Tuesday, including Emmanuelle Vital, who said she researched the boating park for urban planner Susan Corser as well as the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District. Vital said her research included reading books and Web sites about kayaking, as well as observing the boating park and talking to kayakers as they left the C and D holes about their experiences.

The city argued that Vital’s research was missing some information, such as boaters’ reactions to a range of water flows. She also did not ask specific questions about the boating park, including whether kayakers thought it was world-class.

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Attorneys for the city have said that city officials’ goal is to have the boating park be a world-class destination.

Susan Schneider, an attorney representing the water board, said that Vital’s survey provided a range of responses and that boaters gave high ratings to lower flows — an indication that the city may be asking for too much water.

Closing statements are set to begin at 8:30 a.m. Friday in District Water Court. There will be no action taken today or Thursday.

— To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229

or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com

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