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Well users should pay attention

Editorial

Anybody using well water in Summit County should plan to attend a free public forum Tuesday about what constitutes legal water use and how to buy water to cover current illegal uses.

The session is from 6:30-9 p.m. at the Keystone Conference Center.

Many people hold well permits that do not allow water to be used outside the four walls of a house. That means hot tubs, gardens, lawn watering, flower pots, car washing, livestock watering and anything like that is illegal use of water.

For half a decade, the local water commissioner has held off citing illegal uses because Summit County government was developing a water augmentation plan. The water commissioner already knows who many of the offenders are. Hint: A green lawn is a dead giveaway.

As of now, the county’s water plan is all but in place. The county will act like a water company, but without the pipes.

It will lease portions of its water rights portfolio to households who want outdoor water use. The water is stored in places such as Clinton Gulch Reservoir near Fremont Pass, Dillon Reservoir and Wolford Mountain Reservoir.

When senior water users call for the water to which they are entitled, the county will release water to the Colorado River system to protect its customers.

People will be asked to pay an administrative fee to get into the system and then an annual fee for the actual water lease.

Officials estimate that more than 1,000 households are affected by restrictive well permits. These property owners need to find their permits and learn where they stand.

It’s time to learn about the water problem now – and solve it – or face citation and legal action.

Water is a big deal in the arid West and in the headwaters county of Summit. Most of our water is owned by Denver Water, Colorado Springs or down river interests in Western Colorado.

In these days of water shortages, the senior water users want to be kept whole and the state is empowered to make sure that’s true.

The county commissioners have responded with a plan at great cost and effort. Now it’s up to the people to get on board, who abide by their legal uses.


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