UMETCO (Urivan) Water Rights

What will happen when the Union Metals Corporation (UMETCO) water rights on the San Miguel River change hands next year? When the reclamation of the old Uravan uranium mill site is finally complete in 2009, the UMETCO water rights--nearly 300 cubic feet per second (cfs)--will be deeded to the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) per a 1987 consent decree. What the Board will do with those rights is at issue, though Linda Bassi, CWCB Chief of the Stream and Lake Protection Section, said “The Board is still a long way from making a decision.”

At the July CWCB meeting in Cortez, the Board issued its preliminary recommendations about how to divvy up the water rights. Those recommendations suggested that approximately 50 cfs be conveyed to the towns of Nucla and Naturita, as well as Montrose County; that approximately two cfs be conveyed to Montrose County alone; and that the remaining rights be relinquished to the stream, for in-stream flow protection.