City’s water diversion is causing a big stink
Local attorney Ira Karet says there’s something very fishy about Glenwood Springs’ municipal water diversion from No Name Creek. So fishy, in fact, that the mordacious stench has reached his neighborhood in No Name.
City officials insist they’re doing nothing wrong, just taking much-needed water to which they’re entitled to supply city residents.
They also point out that they’re not the only entity taking water. Other water rights holders come before the state’s more junior 2 cubic feet per second, or cfs, minimum flow requirement on the stream.
“Other users are junior to the city, but senior to the 2 cfs instream flows,” said assistant city attorney Karl Hanlon.
The odor is the result of the city water system diverting the entire flow from No name Creek into its intake, Karet said, leaving the portion of the creek bed below the city’s diversion point dried up completely.
The dry creekbed has left dead fish and foul odors in its wake, Karet said.
Karet filed a notice of claim against the city of Glenwood Springs Wednesday, seeking $500,000 in damages from the city for draining the creek.
A notice of claim is required by law when a governmental entity is the target of a potential lawsuit. It warns the entity that a lawsuit could be on the way and gives city officials time to investigate the claim.
But rather than trying to get rich at the city’s – and ultimately taxpayers’ – expense, Karet said his primary goal is to have water restored to the creek.
“In this particular case, I would love it if they put water back in the creek,” he said. “What I’m looking for is a long-term solution.”
City manager Mike Copp said the city is diverting water it rightfully holds.
“No Name is where we get our water. We’re taking what’s ajudicated,” he said, referring to water rights granted the city in state water court a century ago.
In a dry year like this, those rights embody the entire flow.
A similar situation occurred in September 2000, Karet said. When he tried to resolve it, he said he was ignored.
“I didn’t know who was responsible for it,” he said.
Copp said the city’s water department has imminent plans to divert water from Grizzly Creek over to the lower stretch of No Name Creek but they have been prevented from getting up Grizzly Creek to open the Grizzly Creek aqueduct because of the Coal Seam fire.
Copp said crews would probably open the diversion today.
But according to Hanlon, even those flows could leave lower No Name Creek dry.
“This is a tough year,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of discomfort this year. It’s drier than 1977.”
Karet said even if the city diverts the water, it will be too little, too late.
“I don’t know why that isn’t working now,” he said. “There were some big fish in there that came up to breed.
“If they’re not going to do anything, there’s no other way to remedy the situation,” he said of the eventuality of a lawsuit.
The city’s diversion from No Name Creek is up Jess Weaver Trail, about 3/4 of a mile north of Interstate 70.
From there, the water flows into a tunnel and is delivered by pipe to the city’s water treatment plant.
Karet’s notice of claim demands money or that the city return flows into No Name Creek. His claim calls for damages of $500,000, but warns, “damages are ongoing and will continue to accrue into the future until such time as the nuisance is ameliorated.”
“The diversion of this water has created a dry creek bed and an ugly nuisance,” Karet wrote. “The dying fish, the stench caused by the decay and the increase in mosquitos and other bugs are the most significant noticeable changes that have resulted from the city’s actions.”
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