Water Rights Update July 2013

July 27, 2013 by  
Filed under DISTRICT NEWS

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Lookout Mountain Water District is a unique, stand-alone water system.  The water system is independent from Denver Water or some other Front Range community systems.   The water supply for the Lookout Mountain Water District comes from the John Roscoe Reservoir at Upper Beaver Brook and the Lower Beaver Brook Reservoir, and it originates in the Beaver Brook Watershed.  The total watershed is relatively very small; less than 7 square-miles supply the reservoirs, which is east of Squaw Peak.  The water supply resides in the watershed in the form of snow pack, rainfall, and small lake storage.  The unique geographical location of the watershed also comes with its own unique weather patterns.  Frequently, our watershed does not receive the same precipitation as other neighboring watersheds.

When you see snow forecasts or snow events for the mountains, it doesn’t always mean the Beaver Brook Watershed gets the same precipitation.  In recent years, there have been several occasions when other mountain communities received more precipitation.  Furthermore, the physical supply of water into the Watershed, Beaver Brook, and Clear Creek, is just one aspect affecting how much water is available; legally, the District must also comply with water decrees and this impacts the ability to store water.  The District’s water rights (1903, 1924) are very junior to Coors, Golden, Westminster, Arvada, Thornton, Croke Canal, Standley Lake (1902) and others. When senior water rights are “called”, the District has no right to store water flowing in Beaver Brook and can be required to release out of priority stored water.  The District is being told that it is likely not going to be able to keep out of priority winter water even though Standley Lake filled or almost filled this season; this is still of concern and has not yet been resolved.

The only reason the reservoir is about 88% of capacity as of 6/30/13 is due to the fact that the District purchased water for exchange and was able to get credit for it during the fortunate, heavy run-off in April and May.  Furthermore, the surcharges are needed to offset the one time water use purchases of  $72,500 that ‘produced’ roughly 65 Acre Feet to date (we are still working to exchange remaining balances under the right legal and stream flow conditions).