Steamboat City Council to discuss water release
July 16, 2012
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs City Council could help double a planned release of water from Lake Catamount into the Yampa River.
David Hill, president of the Catamount Ranch & Club development, said his board of directors already has signed off on a plan to release 500 acre-feet of water from the reservoir south of Steamboat into the Yampa to help sustain flows and river habitat during the drought.
He said an additional 500 acre-feet could be released into the river if the City Council endorses a plan to move 500 acre-feet of Steamboat's emergency water from Stagecoach Reservoir into Catamount. That move would offset Catamount releasing a second 500 acre-feet of water into the Yampa River. The lake level would drop by a foot if both releases occur, Hill said.
"We would do it as soon as we can," Hill said about the releases, adding that their exact timing and duration have yet to be determined.
City Council discussed Hill's proposal at its July 3 meeting but decided to take some more time to consider the plan.
Council member Sonja Macys said Monday that she still is skeptical of the proposal. She said she has a number of questions, including how much it would cost taxpayers and how it would benefit Steamboat residents.
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"This is a risky maneuver, and I still have not seen (the plan's) benefit to the city of Steamboat Springs residents," Macys said. "Why are we taking a risk with our emergency water resources?"
She added that she isn't convinced the move of the city's emergency water from Stagecoach to Catamount is free of risk.
"It would be very unlikely the water would be diverted before it reaches Catamount, but it still is a risk," she said. "There is nothing stopping a senior water rights holder from diverting the water before it reaches Catamount."
But it was closed Friday and Saturday while it ran below 85 cfs.
Backdoor Sports owner Pete Van De Carr said Sunday he was disappointed the additional Catamount releases have not yet occurred.
He said a release of water last week could have kept the river open and benefited all river users throughout the entire weekend, and he criticized the City Council for postponing a decision on the plan.
Hill, who was not present at the July 3 council meeting, said he doesn't feel the council has stalled the releases and that its members should have all their questions answered before signing off on the proposal.
"We hope (the releases) will help out," he said.
Other highlights of Tuesday's council meeting agenda include:
■ New cell tower for AT&T: The council will consider approving a new AT&T tower that could improve the company's cellular service in Steamboat Springs. The new tower would be constructed on the city's wastewater treatment plant property off Routt County Road 33 and would be operated by New Cingular Wireless, an AT&T subsidiary. Cingular would pay the city $1,000 a month under the proposed lease.
■ Location-neutral business get spotlight: Scott Bideau, a member of Steamboat's location-neutral workforce, will talk to the council about the growth of the location-neutral business sector and how it can be fostered by city officials in the future. His presentation comes at a time when LDM Global, a new location-neutral business in the Yampa Valley, is working to double its workforce and establish its permanent headquarters in Steamboat. Yampa Valley Data Partners estimates Steamboat's location-neutral workforce encompasses more than 1,000 workers and generates $52 million in personal income.
■ SmartWool adjusts airport plans: The council could finalize an amended lease with SmartWool. The Steamboat-based merino wool company decided not to expand into the mezzanine of the Steamboat Springs Airport and will pay a lower rent as a result. The city also will reduce its loan to the company from $957,000 to $800,000. Last year, SmartWool agreed to expand its operations at the airport and renew its lease there through 2022.
■ Community support funding process gets another look: The council will take a fresh look at how it allocates funding to community groups. Part of the discussion will include several proposals put together by city staff to streamline the process.
To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com