Yampa River water rights disputed today

Steamboat Springs -- The city of Steamboat Springs will make its case for recreational water rights on the Yampa River before the Colorado Water Conservation Board today.

The hearing on the city's recreational in-channel diversion application begins at 8 a.m. in the Steamboat Grand Resort Hotel and Conference Center. The hearing is open to the public and the board will take public comment from noon to 1 p.m. and from 5 to 6 p.m.

On Dec. 26, the city filed for water rights on the Yampa River for two river structures: the D-Hole and Charlie's Hole. The two structures are kayaking play holes, but the city's application indicates the water rights would benefit other recreational uses such as boating, tubing, rafting, floating and canoeing.

Essentially, the city is seeking water rights to ensure minimum levels in the Yampa during peak recreation times. The application has a maximum request for 1,700 cubic feet per second in the first half of June and a minimum request for 120 cfs from July 15 to Oct. 31.

On Monday, members of the Water Conservation Board toured the kayaking holes.

More than 20 statements of opposition have been filed against the city's application. Among the entities opposing the application are the Upper Yampa Water Conservancy District, Routt County and the towns of Yampa and Oak Creek. Opponents argue the city's request is excessive and could limit future growth.

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