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Recreational Water Rights Sought for the Upper Colorado River

Posted: 01/31/2011
By: Nathan Fey

Colorado - As part of an ongoing effort to improve whitewater recreation and economic opportunities in the local region, the Grand County Board of Comissioners has applied for surface water rights associated with two whitewater parks on the Colorado River - one at Hot Sulphur Springs, and the other below Gore Canyon. 

Grand County seeks to protect 900 cfs in the Colorado River at Hot Sulphur Springs between April 1 - October 15. Below Gore Canyon, Grand County has reserved the right to 2500cfs between April 1-October 15. These rights are intended for all recreational uses in and on the Colorado River including without limitation, boating, rafting, kayaking, tubing, canoing, paddling, and all non-motorized recreational uses.

The water rights are conditional on the development of in-channel features that will put the water  to "beneficial use", a legal requirement under Colorado Law. As part of longstanding negotiations between Front Range Water Agencies and Western Water interests, the Conditional Rights are supported as mitigation of additional depletions from Windy Gap Reservoir and additional storage in the Upper Colorado River basin. American Whitewater staff have worked with Grand County in exploring the feasability of RICDs as a means of protecting flows in the Colorado River above Glenwood Springs.  We've worked with landowners, outfitters, and Grand County staff to identify potential locations of whitewater features, and in indentifying flows necessary to preserve river-based recreation in the region.

Flows associated with the conditional RICD rights were identified in AW's 2009 Upper Colorado River Flow Study, as sufficient to provide boating opportunities on Byers Canyon, Gore Canyon, and Pumphouse sections of the Colorado. We continue to work with Grand County and our stakeholders in Colorado River negitiations to develop a federal management plan that balances instream flow protection with additional development of water by Denver, Colorado Springs, and other Front Range cities.

We will announce opportunities to support (or object) to Grand County's application of water rights, as they are made available. Stay Tuned!

Colorado Stewardship Director

Nathan Fey

1601 Longs Peak Ave.

Longmont, CO 80501

Phone: 303-859-8601
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Associated Projects

Gore Canyon Whitewater Park (CO)

AW is working with Grand County, CO to establish a new whitewater park on the Upper Colorado River. We have worked to identify the best location, and build support for the proposed project.

Upper Colorado River (CO)

American Whitewater is working with various stakeholders to develop a resource management plan for the BLM, as an alternative to "Wild and Scenic River" management.

Windy Gap Firming Project (CO)

American Whitewater is working to protect outstanding paddling opportunities in Colorado, and a healthy Colorado River system from future water development.


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