State of Colorado Pauses Flow into Groundhog Reservoir To Check Water Right Compliance

Oct 28, 2016

A state agency has issued a rare “call” on the Dolores River, an action designed to see whether water is being taken in accordance with legal rights.

The Colorado Water Conservation Board, which initiated the action, holds an instream flow right of 78 cubic feet per second on the Dolores below McPhee Dam to  benefit native fish and the natural environment. However, that right is junior to many other rights on the river and the full amount is rarely if ever met. Water commissioner Marty Robbins of the state Division of Water Resources, which administers such actions, says his agency will look to see if the most senior rights are being met and move on to more junior rights, making sure water is being taken in priority. As a result, a water diversion into Groundhog Reservoir has been shut off until after November 1st.There has not been a serious call on the Dolores in decades, although a very brief one was issued in 2006. The general manager of the Dolores Water Conservancy District, Mike Preston, says this action won’t affect senior water rights, only those junior to the instream flow who may be taking water out of priority. He says the McPhee storage right is senior to the instream flow, so any water gained by the Dolores River from the call will stay in McPhee for allocated uses next season.