Sunday, August 26, 2012

VWC-DEIS 3.4 Water Rights & Use

Reviewing the VWC-DEIS you'll notice a number of points worth a closer look. To facilitate that I will use this blog for my study notes, organized into single issue threads. Each will quote the USDA Forest Service - Village at Wolf Creek Access Project - Draft Environmental Impact Statement section in question.

{For clarity I have added breaks between sentences and highlights where appropriate.  Wording has not been altered.}
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Draft Environmental Impact Statement - Village at Wolf Creek Access Project

Chapter 3.  Affected Environment - Page 3-25

3.4 Water Rights and Use
3.4.1 Scope of Analysis

Water rights within the State of Colorado are administered under the Doctrine of Prior Appropriation.  The Doctrine states that a water right decreed first in time is the most senior priority and has the first right to divert water ahead of subsequent users.  The “priority” of the water right is based on a combination of the first date of beneficial use and the date it was adjudicated. 
To say that a water right is senior simply means that it has an earlier priority compared to other water rights.  A senior water right can place an administrative “call” on the river when it is not fully satisfied and thereby curtail upstream diversions by junior water rights. 

Water rights administration in Colorado is the responsibility of the State and Division Engineers. The project site, which encompasses the Federal exchange parcel, the non-Federal exchange parcel, and the private land not exchanged, is located in the headwaters of the Rio Grande River basin. 

The Proponents of the development concepts for the project site have previously decreed water rights to provide a source of supply for increased water uses associated with a development. 

However, these water rights are relatively junior in priority and could be placed on call by downstream senior water rights

In 1987, in Water Court Case No. 87CW7, Water Division No. 3, the Proponent adjudicated direct flow water rights, storage water rights, exchange water rights, and a plan for augmentation. 

This decree provides the basis for a legal water supply to support various uses as contemplated in 1987. 

The following section describes the administration of the water rights in the Rio Grande River basin (Rio Grande basin) and its tributaries, including Pass Creek, and it provides details on the Proponent’s water rights and plan for augmentation decreed in Case No. 87CW7.
Draft Environmental Impact Statement - Village at Wolf Creek Access Project

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However, these (LMJV) water rights are relatively junior in priority and could be placed on call by downstream senior water rights.”  Given that the water situation is becoming more restricted, how are junior water right going help fill those two years worth of storage capacity for a village?

Beyond that, shouldn’t the final Environmental Impact Statement include some of the important information within the links listed below:

According to United States Global Change Research Group
(Integrating federal research on global change and climate change) 
We have these key issues to face and prepare for:
  1. Water supplies will become increasingly scarce, calling for trade-offs among competing uses, and potentially leading to conflict.
  1. Increasing temperature, drought, wildfire, and invasive species will accelerate transformation of the landscape.
  1. Increased frequency and altered timing of flooding will increase risks to people, ecosystems, and infrastructure.
  1. Unique tourism and recreation opportunities are likely to suffer.
  1. Cities and agriculture face increasing risks from a changing climate.
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Here are a few more informative links that provide the information needed to make the final EIS more complete that the draft EIS.
NOAA: Extreme Weather 2011 - Factoids 
IPCC Special Report on Extreme Weather 
Political leaders play key role in public understanding of climate change
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Dear Friends of Alberta Park and Wolf Creek, 
we have this one moment to tell the Rio Grande Forest Service and the US Department of Agriculture's powers-that-be what a destructive boondoggle this luxury Village at 10,500± elevation would be.

But, they'll never listen to you, if you don't contact them!
Here's where to do that, but you need to do it now, September:

Commenting on This Project
The Forest Service values public input. Comments received, including respondents’ names and addresses, will become part of the public record for this proposed action. Comments submitted anonymously will be accepted and considered; however, anonymous comments will not provide the agency with the ability to provide you with project updates. The Forest Service wishes to provide you with as many opportunities as possible to learn about our activities.

Official Deadline for comments: 9/30/2012. (or is that Friday the 28th, or Monday the 1st?)

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