Council out of water fight

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Craig City Council members unofficially agreed Tuesday night to stay out of a water fight that has the Yampa Valley divided.

The city of Steamboat Springs has requested the right to divert additional Yampa River water for recreation purposes and asked the Craig council to sign a letter of support.

The diversion would be maintaining flow in kayak play holes and would be nonconsumptive.

In low-flow years, the water would not be used at all for boaters.

Towns above Steamboat Springs oppose the request because the water right would be senior to any future upstream water rights and could limit future development in towns like Oak Creek and Yampa.

Towns such as Hayden, which are downstream, could benefit because that water would continue to be available -- unused by upstream users.

The Hayden Town Board agreed to sign the letter last week. The city of Craig has senior water rights and sufficient storage in Elkhead Reservoir, so local officials didn't see the move as benefiting this area.

Because of that, the decision was made not to jump into the political fray.

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