Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Steamboat Springs The Colorado Water Conservation Board says it has evidence that the city of Steamboat Springs is asking for too much water in its recreational water right application.
In December 2003, the city applied for a recreational water right that would ensure a minimum stream flow for activities such as tubing and kayaking. By state law, the water right will be granted only if the city shows that it is asking for the minimum amount of water needed to provide a "reasonable recreational experience."
City officials also must show that the sections of the Yampa River included in the request -- kayaking holes C and D -- are being used for recreation, a concept called "reach." Those recreational uses also should be the maximum, or best, use of water as a resource.
A state water board official said board members heard testimony Tuesday that showed the city's filing does not meet those requirements.
Board staff member Ted Kowalski said Wednesday that he and other staff members listened to experts who interviewed people about that section of river and whether people canoe, kayak, tube and raft there.
The experts said people put in their rafts upstream, Kowalski said. That would mean the city's reach requirement is not met.
"The reach identified is not appropriate reach for that recreational experience sought," he said.
The city also had gathered input from people who use the river for recreation, Kowalski said, but they have not shared that information with the board. He said the board filed a motion within the past few days to have more information provided about the city's research.
City Attorney Tony Lettunich and City Manager Paul Hughes said they did not know what happened during Tuesday's water board hearing. Glenn Porzak, the city's water attorney, was in meetings Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.
A trial about the city's water right application is scheduled for the week of Oct. 17 in District Water Court.
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