Glenwood delays water rights decision
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Water rights just aren’t worth $500,000 right now.
The Glenwood Springs City Council voted Thursday night to indefinitely postpone a decision about whether to seek water rights for the city’s whitewater park.
The cost for a recreational in-channel diversion in 2009 could be as much as $300,000, and additional costs could add $200,000 more, City Manager Jeff Hecksel said in a memo to the City Council.
There’s nothing budgeted in the 2009 budget for the legal and engineering work necessary, and taking the cash from the general fund wouldn’t be a good move during the recession, the memo said.
“Because revenues are declining due to the economic downturn, it would not be prudent to take this much money out of the general fund balance at this time,” said the memo. “In order to cut this much money, it will be necessary to reduce staffing and service levels funded out of the general fund.”
Taking the cash from a different fund that includes Community Center operations could work but would be “a major departure in city policy,” noted the memo.
“Given the continual decline in sales tax at this time, I would recommend postponing this work,” Hecksel said in the memo.
The recreational in-channel diversion could help protect flows at the whitewater park on the Colorado River against calls from other subsequent diversions in the future. In times of shortage, Glenwood Springs could use a diversion right to “call” water in the river from other water users who hold a younger right.
The whitewater park was constructed last March after around seven years of effort. It cost almost $1 million, and some $600,000 is budgeted this year for construction of on-shore amenities such as more parking, restrooms and a spectator area.
The park was awarded the 2009 U.S. Freestyle Kayaking Team Trials and has received visitors and praise from around the country. Photographs of its giant waves have appeared in Outdoor Adventure Magazine and paddling magazines along with copious amounts of footage on the popular video website http://www.youtube.com.
The park is expected to benefit Glenwood’s economy and promote tourism.
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Mountain Rescue Aspen is expanding its education efforts to try to keep people safe in the backcountry during winters and summers. It will host a workshop on Dec. 8 titled, “How to Plan a Backcountry Tour.”