Cari Hermacinski: Clarifying the water issue

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I believe the article concerning water in the Aug. 9 Pilot & Today ("Steamboat 700 water issues complicated") missed the point. As a council member, I was not at all moved by 700's argument that the water dedication issue was brought up too late in the process and that's why dedication of water rights should not be required of Steamboat 700. The timing issue was a meaningless point to me.

The City Council's duty is to make sure the proverbial bases are covered - no matter how "late" in the process they are discussed - especially when it comes to water, which in my opinion is the most important long-term issue that will face all Western communities that are experiencing growth.

The reason I believe the City Council voted unanimously to require the $960,000 payment by Steamboat 700 for firming of water rights is because Steamboat, unlike Minturn, has been planning for its future growth for decades. Steamboat has the extra water necessary to accommodate growth, and Minturn does not.

Additionally, the growth that is anticipated in west Steamboat is attainable and affordable housing necessary for smart growth - not multimillion-dollar mansions and golf courses (like Minturn), and each cost that is unnecessarily added to annexation only works to drive the cost of housing higher, thus working against the goals of the West of Steamboat Springs Area Plan.

Even without an annexation, Steamboat must work on its future water needs. While Steamboat does have plenty of "wet" water (step 1) to allow for future smart growth, it has not "perfected" (step 2) those wet water rights, so the water can actually be used. With or without annexation, we need to get started on the legal work necessary to perfect our wet water rights, both so we can accommodate internal growth and to put redundancy into our existing system. If there is a forest fire in the Fish Creek basin, the majority of our currently perfected (and delivered to our homes) water could be temporarily contaminated, and our Yampa River wells are not sufficient to serve the existing population during peak summer demand. With or without the $960,000 that Steamboat 700 will be required to pay if annexation is approved, we will need to find the money to pay for perfection of our community's water rights.

Cari Hermacinski

Steamboat Springs

Comments

Dan Hill 5 years, 4 months ago

I don't follow the logic.

The final paragraph tells us we have to "perfect" these water rights anyway, which seems to undermine the argument for having Steamboat 700 meet the cost.

Sure we don't want Steamboat 700 imposing a financial burden on the City's existing taxpayers, but shouldn't they only be up for the true incremental costs?

We saw the same thing with trying to foist the entire cost of a fancy new public safety facility on to Steamboat 700.

Remember that getting Steamboat 700 to pay for our wish list doesn't make it free. It's our future neighbors, who we supposedly want to be average middle class working citizens living in average homes, that will end up paying for it.

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4genlocal 5 years, 4 months ago

I agree water rights are important. I do want to point out the city is the one that made it extremely difficult for ranchers and developers to get water rights. Their water grab in 2006 changed the water rights on the yampa above the library from over appropriated to critical. This was for a recreational water right. But then the city is limiting the recreation on the yampa. You can't tube this section only so many tubes allowed what good is the recreational water right when the recreation is taken away??

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