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Environment

Officials restrict water usage from Yampa River for only the second time ever

The move came because less water has been circulating to the lower part of the river, meaning users in that area are not receiving their legally protected share

Tubers float in the Yampa River past the Fish Creek Mobile Home park near Steamboat Springs. (Matt Stensland, Special to The Colorado Sun)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The primary part of the Yampa River in northern Colorado is under water usage restrictions for only the second time ever.

The move came because less water has been circulating to the lower part of the river, meaning users in that area are not receiving their legally protected share, the Steamboat Pilot & Today reported.

The Colorado Division of Water Resources places a call when owners do not receive the amount of water they have a legal right to. When a call is implemented, some users are forced to reduce or stop their usage of the water in order to send enough water downstream to fulfill the older water right.

MORE: Amid drought, a changing climate and population growth, can Colorado’s unique water law system survive?

Under Wednesday’s call, any water user along the Yampa River who has a water right given after Sept. 1, 1960 will have to reduce their usage.

Those who do not have a proper measuring device and head gate to regulate their flow of water must stop their usage regardless of their rights’ seniority.

The action will withhold some of Steamboat Springs’ water rights, but residents will not notice any changes in service, said Kelly Romero-Heaney, a water resources manager for the city. The city will instead purchase stored water from a local reservoir.

“We are really well prepared for a water call on the Yampa,” Romero-Heaney said. “For us, we don’t see an interruption to service.”


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