Water questions raised

Hayden discusses new developments affecting supply

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— A week of rain added inches to the area's water supply, but Hayden officials want to make sure last week's nearly averted crisis never happens again.

A call made on the Yampa River two weeks ago by Tri State Generation Power Plant in Craig raised the question of Hayden's ability to survive a drought at its current size without severe water restrictions.

It also raised several questions about how the town's water supply will fare if several proposed developments are added to the population.

The call was "unprecedented in the history of administrating the river," said Colorado Division of Water Resources Water Commissioner Andy Schaffner

At Thursday night's Town Board meeting, Schaffner presented a list of the town's water rights to the Yampa River and the Stagecoach and Yamcolo reservoirs.

Schaffner said Hayden has rights on the Shelton and Walker ditches as well as 300 acre-feet of water storage in Yamcolo Reservoir and 200 acre-feet of water in Stagecoach Reservoir.

The call is officially off the Yampa River and Hayden ended its reciprocal call on the Stagecoach Reservoir on Monday, Public Works Director Frank Fox said.

Before the rain fell, the Yampa River was running at 42 feet and is now measured at 97 feet, Schaffner said.

Water was added to the Yamcolo Reservoir, above the town of Yampa, "but you can actually see the cement structure of the reservoir. I don't think I've ever seen that happen," she said.

As a possible solution to water worries, Mayor Chuck Grobe, Town Manager Rob Straebel and Fox have been looking into the possibility of purchasing more water rights.

Straebel said water in Stagecoach is selling for $43 per acre-foot with a 20-year lease.

"This may not be the best year to consider purchasing more water rights," Straebel said, "but we need water if we are going to grow."

Since the Town Board put a mandatory restriction on all lawn watering in early September, Hayden's water usage has gone from using 500,000 gallons of water a day to 200,000 gallons.

The board discussed whether it should go forward with the review of new developments given the current water situation.

The board agreed to go forward with new growth but to proceed carefully.

Ken Gibbons suggested researching homes built and landscaped for water efficiency.

In other business, the board discussed the end of Waste Management's trash and recycling collection contract as of Nov. 1.

Board members agreed they were satisfied with Waste Management's performance over the past two years, but a call for bids brought a lower offer to the table.

Craig resident Benjie Berg wants to start a Hayden-based business called Old West Sanitation to provide waste and recycling collection to the area.

The board agreed to consult Town Attorney Mike Holloran as to whether it is obligated to accept the lowest bid.

"We will be saving $25,000 if we go with Old West," Grobe said.

Board members were wary of going with an unproven company, but "how does anyone get a track record if they are never given a chance?" asked Trustee Joe Schminkey.

The Town Board also passed a resolution to make seatbelts mandatory in the town of Hayden.

Fox announced that a $1200 snowblower was stolen from the town.

New ramps have arrived for Hayden's skate park and are being installed.

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