RICD battle continues in court | SteamboatToday.com

RICD battle continues in court

Board questions Steamboat's ability to measure flow rates

Dana Strongin

— The city of Steamboat Springs and the Colorado Water Conservation Board met in court Wednesday, the third day of a scheduled seven-day trial about the city’s water right application.

The city filed for a recreational water right on the C and D kayaking holes on the Yampa River in December 2003. A recreational water right can, under certain circumstances, allow the city to ensure it has a minimum stream flow in a waterway for recreational uses.

The board opposes the city’s water right application because it says the application fails to meet two requirements.

The city’s witnesses Wednesday included Gary Thompson, president of the Englewood water resources engineering firm W.W. Wheeler and Associates.

Thompson, who has studied the Yampa River, said he thinks the application meets the requirement of maximum utilization. The requirement, which means that water is being used properly as a resource, is one of the two the board has said the city does not meet.

Also, Jennifer Mele, an attorney representing the board, asked Thompson several questions relating to the city’s planned methods to monitor the flow rates at the boating park, including the use of satellites.

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Glenn Porzak, the city’s water attorney, said that it was inherent that the city will monitor the flow rates when necessary. The types of satellites that Mele was discussing cost about $50,000, he said.

Paul Benington, who also is representing the board, said there are satellites that are more reasonably priced than $50,000. He also said that the city might be able to share the cost of gauges or satellites with the U.S. Geological Survey. “We think we can probably work it out between the parties,” Benington said.

Judge Michael O’Hara said that the odds of him ruling to require the city to pay $50,000 for satellites are “pretty low.”