According to Aspen Journalism, a judge has granted a water conservancy district in northwest Colorado a conditional water storage right for a new dam-and-reservoir project that top water regulators had opposed. For more than five years, state engineers had argued that the project was speculative and that the Rio Blanco Water Conservancy District couldn’t prove its existing water rights were not enough to meet its needs. According to Colorado water law, new conditional water rights cannot be granted without a specific plan and intent to put the water to beneficial use. However, the Rio Blanco district said its existing water rights in their current locations were insufficient and that it needed a new reservoir on Wolf Creek to meet current and future needs, especially during drought.
According to the new decree, if Rio Blanco in the future is successful at moving any of their existing water rights to the Wolf Creek project, the same portion of water granted by the decree will be canceled, eliminating duplicate water rights in the reservoir. State Engineer Kevin Rein said the final decree is a good outcome, reached in the spirit of cooperation.
Read more from this story from Aspen Journalism.