Thursday, September 22, 2005
Steamboat Springs' water attorney says it was the city that prevailed during a hearing with the Colorado Water Conservation Board on Tuesday, despite comments otherwise from a water board staff member.
Tuesday's hearing came nearly two years after the city's December 2003 filing for a recreational water right on kayaking holes C and D in the town stretch of the Yampa River. A recreational water right ensures a minimum stream flow for activities such as tubing and kayaking.
The water board and the city are set to oppose each other over the city's recreational water right application during a weeklong trial scheduled to begin Oct. 17 in District Water Court.
To qualify for the water right, the city must meet a requirement called "reach," which means that specific recreational uses take place on the section of the river for which the right is requested.
The water board has said kayaking holes C and D, called the boating park, were located near a floodplain, said Glenn Porzak, the city's water attorney. During Tuesday's hearing, however, water board members said the floodplain was no longer an issue, Porzak said.
Water board staff member Ted Kowalski has said the city does not meet the reach requirement because people put in their rafts and tubes upstream. Porzak said the upper portion of the river is closed to commercial tubing to avoid conflicts with anglers.
The city plans to file a motion with the District Water Court that the water board no longer can argue the reach issue, Porzak said.
The city also must meet a requirement called "maximum utilization," which means that water, as a resource, would be put to its best use.
In the past, Porzak said, water board officials said the existence of the recreational water right would adversely affect upstream users. On Tuesday, however, water board officials changed the language of that statement to show that it only potentially could affect a user, Porzak said.
The water board recently filed a motion to learn more about the city's research. Porzak said the city has shared all raw data and results as requested by the water board.
"We have fully complied with all of their requests for information. They are asking for information we don't have and doesn't exist," he said.
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