Water ruling is good for Blue River | SummitDaily.com

Water ruling is good for Blue River

If you like to see water in the upper reaches of the Blue River, you will like Monday’s state Supreme Court ruling allowing recreational water rights.

While the issue was wrapped around recreational water for in-stream kayak parks in Breckenridge, Vail and Golden, the real benefit to Summit County is increased flow in the Blue River between Hoosier Pass and Dillon Reservoir.

Kayakers are incidental beneficiaries, behind the environment.

The Blue can run so low at times, water flow disappears into the porous streambed left over from that ecological disaster known as dredge boat mining.

Dredge boats are a celebrated piece of history, of course. But the link between the river, dredge boats and new recreational water rights serves to highlight the new economy. Today, tourism is king, and increased visitation to the kayak park can only help a flat economy regain some strength.

But that lets dollars and cents cloud an environmental victory. Colorado Springs secured water rights to the Blue River long ago and diverts water from as far north as Spruce Creek, just outside of Breckenridge.

Water is siphoned over several mountain ridges to the Blue Lakes Reservoir. From there, it is siphoned to Montgomery Reservoir in Park County, just on the other side of the Continental Divide.

Breckenridge’s new recreational water right prevents Colorado Springs from taking more than its allotment in good water years. That means more water in the Upper Blue Basin.

The best part about the extra water is that it is not diverted and not consumed. It stays in the stream.

The beleaguered Blue has three big jobs, supplying water to Colorado Springs, locals and Denver. Now, more so than ever, it can act more like a High Country river.

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