August 8, 2012--Agreement reached in Montrose County water rights fight (Telluride Watch)

An agreement between a lengthy list of objectors, including the Town of Telluride and San Miguel County, has been reached with Montrose County that drastically reduces the amount of water it seeks to claim from the San Miguel River and its tributaries. Details of the agreement were outlined at a meeting of the Telluride Town Council on Tuesday; members of council unanimously approved the agreement. Under the settlement, Montrose County will drop claims on the proposed Marie Scott Reservoir and other facilities that would be constructed in San Miguel County, and agree to not assist others in developing those facilities, as well. Within six years, Montrose County must select one or two of the four remaining proposed reservoirs to develop, and then abandon the other proposed reservoirs. The agreement stipulates that Montrose County must agree to volumetric limitations on the use of the water, which will limit the draft of the water rights on the stream system. Finally, the agreement states Montrose County must abandon or forfeit reservoirs that are not constructed within certain periods of time, and forfeit water for which actual uses do not develop, over specified periods of time. In comparison to what Montrose County was seeking in its water rights application, this claim to water from the San Miguel River is significantly smaller. In the fall of 2010, Montrose County filed a series of five applications for water rights, seeking six separate reservoirs and reservoir enlargements with a capacity of over 51,000 acre-feet of water, as well as potential annual diversions of over 96,000 acre-feet of water. The applications also sought water exchanges to facilitate diversions, storage and water delivery.

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