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April 7, 2015--Landmark legal decision protects rivers and instream flows (Western Resource Advocates)
Today the Colorado Supreme Court rendered a landmark decision upholding the “instream” water right for the breathtaking San Miguel River.
Many water managers in the state, including those in southwest Colorado, are concerned about recent actions taken by federal agencies regarding historical water use, permitting, and planning activities involving federal lands that could impact existing and future water rights in Colorado.
Battered by drought and drained to a trickle by diversions, the Upper Colorado River got a bit of a boost as a state water court finalized a decree for three important instream flow rights that could help protect trout populations during low-flows.
Even after wet winters, the Upper Colorado River can run perilously low in late summer and fall due to numerous diversions, and in this drought year, high demand threatens the state’s namesake river even more. But thanks to a deal brokered by the Colorado Water Trust and sanctioned by the State Engineer’s Office, the Colorado will get a measure of relief.
Managing our demand for water by implementing water conservation measures reduces the stress on the aquatic environment found in the streams and reservoirs that are the source of most of our local water supplies. As the stream flows diminish in a drought, water temperature goes up and habitat and refuge for fish and aquatic invertebrates goes down.
The Colorado Water Trust has received 16 formal offers from water-rights holders to participate in a pilot program aimed at boosting streamflows in rivers across the state this summer. The upper Roaring Fork River, which was reduced to a trickle in Aspen during the drought summer of 2002, inspired changes in Colorado water law that make the Request for Water 2012 program possible.
Montrose County has reduced by one the list of objectors to its water rights claim on the San Miguel River. County commissioners on Monday signed off on an intergovernmental agreement with the Norwood Water Commission.
Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company’s board of directors got a loud message from their stockholders last May: “we do not want to lease water to maintain instream flows.” Now the board is seeking to understand stockholder concerns. The company, which supplies water to a large ar
At its first meeting this year, the Colorado Water Conservation Board voted to delay the appropriation of an instream flow water right on the lower San Miguel River until January 2011, in order to allow time to develop off-stem water storage in the watershed.
In this state, only the Colorado Water Conservation Board can own a water right specifically to keep streams flowing and lakes full. Since 2001, the CWCB has been getting help securing those rights from the Colorado Water Trust.