Ruedi water study draws attention
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Two proposed water studies are drawing attention from the Interbasin Compact Committee of the state Department of Natural Resources, which has said they could potentially harm established water rights.
The IBCC oversees the nine river basin roundtables created by House Bill 1177 to determine future water needs in each basin.
IBCC spokesman Rick Brown told the Colorado River Basin Roundtable Monday in Glenwood Springs that he felt considerable “consternation” over the two studies, by Grand County and the Ruedi Water and Power Authority, to identify water needs.
Data compiled by those studies, such as actual in-stream flows and the amount of water necessary to maintain a viable and healthy river ecosystem, could be used in future legal proceedings or for regulatory purposes that would prove harmful to “vested water rights,” Brown said. “It’s a hugely important issue.”
Such an outcome would be contrary to the intent of HB 1177 not to impair previously established water rights.
But a number of roundtable members argued the study in itself causes no harm.
“A study doesn’t diminish a water right [in itself],” only a regulatory body can make that determination, said roundtable member and Kremmling Mayor Tom Clark.
Nor is it the intent to use such studies to cause harm. The intent of the Roaring Fork River study “is collaborative and cooperative,” said Ken Neubecker, who represents environmental interests to the roundtable.
“If you take the worst case scenario to its logical conclusion,” said Mark Fuller, executive director of the Ruedi Authority and roundtable member, every study or water project proposed by the basin round tables has the potential to impair someone’s water rights. “Everyone potentially violates the spirit of the legislation. And if it undermines the legitimacy of [the grant projects], it undermines the whole [roundtable] process.”
John Redifer, a member of the Colorado Water Conservation Board ” which grants funds for roundtable projects ” and representative to the roundtable, assured the group that he supported the two studies and would make his support known to the CWCB. He said the problem also lies with HB 1177. “It’s very poorly written legislation.”
Brown also urged the group not to give up on the roundtable process, which involves people from all over the state with very divergent interests. “Don’t be discouraged,” he said.
Ruedi Reservoir is located on the Fryingpan River, above Basalt.
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