Friday, May 28, 2010

BLM, Colo. Propose Unique Water Flow Regime for New Wilderness

At just over a year old, the Dominguez -- Colorado's newest wilderness area -- is one step closer to securing essential legal rights to both base water flows and seasonal swells that help sustain its diversity of species. In a decision hailed by environmental groups and supported by BLM, the Colorado Water Conservation Board last week advanced an unconventional plan that would be one of the first variable water rights ever granted in the state. The plan -- modeled after a proposal BLM pitched to the board earlier this year -- would protect the seasonally changing flows in the canyon while balancing the needs of upstream landowners who depend on the same source of water to graze cattle. While typical in-stream water rights in Colorado assign fixed flow rates for specific periods of time, the Dominguez proposal would allocate a fixed amount of water for upstream users and send all remaining water -- regardless of volume -- to Big Dominguez and Little Dominguez creeks. If finalized, the water right would be owned by the state and would eliminate the need for the Interior Department to declare its own water right -- a politically contentious move in water-strapped Western states...more

No comments: