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Posted on: October 16, 2018

City Council and Opposers Reach Settlement on Conditional Water Storage Rights

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PRESS RELEASE 

 

City Council and Opposers Reach Settlement on Conditional Water Storage Rights on Maroon and Castle Creeks

 

The Aspen City Council has reached settlement agreements with all opposers to Aspen’s two pending water court cases regarding its conditional storage rights on Castle and Maroon Creeks. The settlement stipulations are a result of negotiations between the City and all parties over the proposed sites of the future reservoirs.  The next steps will be obtaining water court approval of the stipulations and entry of decrees continuing the conditional water rights for another six-year period. 

 

“This is a great example illustrating that collaboration and working toward common goals created a water storage solution that is better for all parties involved,” said Margaret Medellin, City of Aspen Utilities Portfolio Manager.  “There is great reason to celebrate when you begin a process at opposite ends of the spectrum and end the process in agreement.  This is a big win for our community.”

 

Throughout this process, the City’s primary concern, in concert with its commitment to environmental values, has been to safeguard its water storage rights to meet the needs of its water customers with a sufficient, legal, and reliable water supply, now and into the future, despite future risks and uncertainty, most notably from climate change.

 

Over the last few months the City of Aspen reached agreements with opposers including Wilderness Workshop, Western Resource Advocates, American Rivers, Trout Unlimited, Pitkin County, the U.S. Forest Service and private land owners.  Last week, the City reached an agreement with the final opposing party. 

 

For the last year and a half, the City has been working with these parties to find a suitable resolution where the City’s water storage rights would be protected while also providing environmental protections for these delicate areas.  

“The City of Aspen has always had the interest of its water customers and community in the forefront of its goals to ensure Aspen could deliver adequate and safe water to its residents and visitors,” said Mayor Steve Skadron.

 

“Throughout this process, City Council was acting in the best interest of its current and future water customers as part of prudent water management. I am proud we were able to safeguard our future water storage needs while also collaborating to protect sensitive wilderness areas,” he added.

 

In accordance with the stipulations, Aspen will file a water court application to transfer both of its water storage rights to one or more locations that are not in wilderness areas.  The new storage locations include City-owned land in the Woody Creek area, the Aspen Golf Course, Cozy Point Ranch, Zoline Open Space, Vagneur Gravel Quarry and/or any other location agreed to in writing by the City and the parties opposing the current cases. In addition, Aspen has agreed to limit the total amount diverted annually to storage to a total of 8,500 acre-feet.

 

Aspen has held its conditional water storage rights on Maroon Creek and Castle Creek since 1965.  Over decades, Aspen City Council has protected its water storage rights in order to be responsible stewards of the water supply needed for Aspen’s utility customers, now and into the future.   In 2016, as required by law, Aspen filed applications with the Division 5 Water Court to continue these conditional water storage rights for another six-year period.  A total of ten parties filed statements of opposition to one or both applications.  

 

After the stipulations have been approved and the decrees entered in the current cases, Aspen can begin planning and engineering work and developing a water court application to change the location of the storage rights to one or more of the new sites outside of the Wilderness Area. 

 

 

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