Gore Canyon Water Right Question - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 06-06-2018   #1
 
Join Date: May 2004
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Gore Canyon Water Right Question

Greetings River Runners!

Putting a question out there to those who understand water calls better than I. This article states that the Gore whitewater park has a water right for 860 cfs from April 5 to October 15 and a 1500 cfs right from April 29 to July 22:
https://www.americanwhitewater.org/c.../display/full/

Considering this water right why is the river so low this year and continues to be below the minimum listed by AW? What don't I understand?

Thanks for your input!

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Old 06-06-2018   #2
 
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Steamboat, Colorado
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Someone will say it better, but as I understand it these "The Recreational In-Channel Diversion right, or RICD" are one of the lowest, if not the lowest, on the water call list.

Basically, if there is enough water left over after all senior/ag water rights have been fulfilled then they will meet the recreational calls. Doubt there will be any of that this year in most places.
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Old 06-06-2018   #3
td
 
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Colorado water rights are first in time = first in right. Since most RICD's are very recent rights, they are junior to almost all other rights. They can only make a call (ask someone upstream to stop irrigating so the water stays in the river) to water rights that were awarded after the RICD. They can not make a call on any of the rights that existed prior to the RICD, which is virtually all of the municipal and agricultural rights in the system. If/as more water rights are awarded in the future, the RICD will have precedent over them, but that will probably only matter in years with more water than this one. I believe that the RICD could purchase a more senior right, but I have to imagine that would cost a fortune for any significant amount of water.
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Old 06-06-2018   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by td View Post
Colorado water rights are first in time = first in right. Since most RICD's are very recent rights, they are junior to almost all other rights. They can only make a call (ask someone upstream to stop irrigating so the water stays in the river) to water rights that were awarded after the RICD. They can not make a call on any of the rights that existed prior to the RICD, which is virtually all of the municipal and agricultural rights in the system. If/as more water rights are awarded in the future, the RICD will have precedent over them, but that will probably only matter in years with more water than this one. I believe that the RICD could purchase a more senior right, but I have to imagine that would cost a fortune for any significant amount of water.
This is the truth. RICD's are really more symbolic than anything.
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Old 06-07-2018   #5
 
Denver, Colorado
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Good to see you buzzards are well informed on water rights. The explanation above is correct - I would just add that the Colorado legislature did not enact laws allowing water rights that don't actually divert water from the river - i.e. instream flows for aquatic life, and RICDs for boating - until the 1970s and later. Therefore these rights simply can't compete with senior water rights, most of which date back to the late 1800s or early 1900s. It's also correct that you could purchase a senior right and change it to RICD or instream flow use.

I encourage you all to check out the good work being done by the Colorado Water Trust to keep water in our rivers. Their annual event is coming up on June 12 at the Denver Botanic Gardens, it's a great chance to meet people engaged in the water community, and spend some money for a good cause.
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Old 06-07-2018   #6
 
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I'm not sure of the intricacies but while a RICD is mainly symbolic and not likely to be used except in case of a bodacious water year (like 2011), one of the things that a RICD does is to give the owner standing, or a "place at the table," to object when one of the other appropriators wants to change how their water is used, like transfer their water out of the basin. This is a very important characteristic of the water right and part of the reason many of the "water buffaloes" fought the creation of RICDs. DanOrion or someone more knowledgeable than I about water rights could probably explain it better.

On the Upper Colorado, the main water right that controls most of the river's flow is the Public Service right for the Shoshone Power Plant. John Fleck does a good job writing about it in his blog HERE.

The Shoshone power plant is the reason we are able to boat from the Lower Blue all the way to Cameo in the late summer.

Enjoy,

-AH
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Old 06-07-2018   #7
 
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All the above information is correct, maybe with the exception of RICD's being "symbolic." Water rights ripen with age. The Gore RICD would help to prevent, for example, a project that depleted the river upstream of Gore, but replaced that water on the Eagle. E.g. If a City wanted to divert more water off the Blue/Upper C/Fraser and replace that with releases from a reservoir on the Eagle, they could have done that more easily prior to the RICD. In other words, the RICD helps to lock in current conditions and prevent flows from getting lower in the future.

To see an immediate and tangible flow benefit, a project would need to deal in either large amounts of storage (new reservoir or trade of reservoir space) or massive senior water right transfers. That type of project has more zero's behind it than most people would pay to guarantee flows.
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Old 06-07-2018   #8
 
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Thanks for setting the record straight, Dan! It's better than I thought.
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