Water restrictions unnecessary, some say | PostIndependent.com

Water restrictions unnecessary, some say

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The water restrictions put into effect here last summer were not necessary, water attorneys said Thursday.

In a work session hosted by City Council to discuss what steps should be taken if there’s another summer of drought in Colorado, local water attorneys Scott Balcomb and Jim Lochhead said there was plenty of water flowing from the city’s water sources, Grizzly and No Name creeks. Also, unlike many municipalities, Glenwood Springs doesn’t rely on a reservoir, so any water that goes unused simply flows down the Colorado River.

“We’re in great shape, so let’s not pretend that we’re not,” Balcomb told the council.

Lochhead said heavy-handed restrictions should only happen for four reasons: if there’s a legal, hydrologic, system operations or an environmental reason.

“I’m not aware that any of these conditions have arisen in Glenwood Springs – just the opposite, we have a safety issue in Glenwood where we need to water as much as we can to prevent wildfires,” Lochhead said.

Councilman Don Gillespie agreed.

“We need to take away the word drought until it’s here – and we don’t have it here,” he said. “I don’t think we’re flaunting anything here except that our predecessors were prudent enough to get us good water rights.”

Councilman Dave Merritt, who works as an engineer for the Colorado River Water Conservation District, said while Balcomb and Lochhead are factually correct, it is always wise to conserve as much as possible to be good neighbors to downstream users and to show leadership in a time of statewide crisis.

“It’s going to be an issue of how to impact the river as little as possible,” he said. “We need to set an example.”

Balcomb retorted that the restrictions – which began in June, then became more strict later in the summer – were politically motivated.

“It’s a political thing; people think it’s expected,” he said. “I’m all for educating, but it’s not necessary to put on restrictions. If we’re short, restrict. If we’re not short, don’t restrict.”

Merritt said people don’t visit Glenwood Springs to see green lawns, but rather to recreate in the rivers.

“I really think we need to be in the mode to respect our streams and rivers,” he said. “We should be looking for everybody to conserve because of the condition of our (state’s) reservoirs.”

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