Breckenridge wants Miners Creek water
April 20, 2009
FRISCO The town of Breckenridge has revived a decade-old plan to claim water rights on a historic ditch that diverts water from Miners Creek, near Frisco, to North Barton Creek, a small drainage near Peak 7.U.S. Forest Service rangers said Monday the agency will extend a comment period on the plan. The Forest Service is involved because Breckenridge needs to build a headgate and flume on national forest land to control the diversion.The Forest Service issued a scoping notice for the proposal in late March, with an Wednesday comment deadline. But Frisco officials and other residents in the area said they hadnt received any formal word from the agency as late as Monday.As a result, District Ranger Jan Cutts said the Forest Service will release information on an extended comment deadline in the next few days.Frisco public works director Tim Mack said the towns water attorney was aware that Breckenridge was filing for the Miners Creek water right in Division 5 Water Court in Glenwood Springs.It doesnt affect our water rights so were not planning on filing a statement of opposition, Mack said.The water rights were formally decreed six years ago. This summer, the town has to show that it has pursued the use of that water with reasonable diligence, according to one of the towns water attorneys.Dave Koop, the towns water foreman, also said the proposal wont affect Frisco directly.If you dont have a dog in the fight, you dont really get to say much, Koop said. Were more worried about what Copper Mountain does with Ten Mile Creek, he added. But the last thing you like is to get blindsided by something like this. The old Friends of Miners Creek group would want to know about this if its moving up to the front burner, Koop added.He was referring to a group of citizens mostly from the Bills Ranch neighborhood who banded together about 10 years ago to oppose the diversion, citing concerns impacts to Miners Creek. In dry years, the small diversion of 2 cubic feet per second could have a significant effect on water levels, potentially affecting trout, as well as ditches in the Bills Ranch neighborhood, the group said.None of the groups former members could be reached Monday for comment, so its not clear if there is any citizen opposition to the proposal at this stage.The Forest Service expects to make a decision sometime this summer, according to the scoping notice.The water would be shunted about 2,400 feet from Miners Creek to North Barton Creek and back into the Blue River. The diversion would enable Breckenridge to take more water from the Blue River upstream while still meeting minimum stream flow requirements in the Blue River between the town and Dillon Reservoir.The historic ditch has been carrying water from Miners Creek to Barton Creek since the mining era, but the flow is not formally controlled or measured.Bob Berwyn can be reached at (970) 331-5996 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.