December 21, 2011--Water works (Montrose Daily Press)

To protect future growth, Montrose County needs to secure water rights against an instream flow claim on a 17.4-mile stretch of the San Miguel River, officials say. State and federal agencies, along with other parties, are angling for in-stream flow rights on the same portion of river — an action they say is necessary to protect fish species of concern. The Colorado Water Conservation Board determined it’s in the state’s interest to file for the instream flow. Its study determined there is enough water for appropriation on the river between the Calamity Draw Confluence, a few miles west of Nucla, and the confluence of the Dolores River to “preserve the natural environment to a reasonable degree without limiting or foreclosing the exercise of valid, existing water rights.” The county is not so certain of that, at least, not when it comes to future needs. Montrose County was able to file in December 2010 for rights ahead of the CWCB’s Oct. 31 filing this year, thanks to the board’s decision to delay its own application. 

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