Grand County water not an ‘entitlement’ for Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District
To the Editor:
Whenever I hear or read that Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District is entitled to take more Colorado River water to the Eastern Slope, it makes me cringe. Northern is not “entitled” to the Windy Gap Firming Project or to take more water from the Colorado River.
What Northern has is a right to give it its best shot at getting the water. This is known as a “conditional” water right. A conditional water right saves the place in the priority line to those who want to brave going through the process of getting permits and authorizations needed to develop a water project. It doesn’t guarantee that the project will be approved.
In fact, conditional water rights are so uncertain that you are required to go back to water court every six years to prove that you have been working diligently in trying to get the necessary approvals and that approvals haven’t been denied so the project could still be built. Ironically, Northern’s conditional water rights for Windy Gap don’t even authorize storage in the new proposed reservoir ” water was supposed to be stored in a new reservoir in Grand County.
Northern is not entitled to take more water from Grand County. It is entitled to give it its best shot at getting approvals from the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Colorado Department of Health. To get those approvals, the agencies have to look at the impacts of the proposed project on the community and the environment and Northern has to come up with ways to mitigate those impacts. That’s what the Environmental Impact Statement is all about.
Colorado River Headwaters Chapter of Trout Unlimited
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