Colorado Water Court Approves Settlement to Boost Instream Flow Right
3/23/2000 -- -- Contact: David Nickum, Executive Director (303) 440-2937
Trout Unlimited announced today that the winter instream flow right for St. Louis Creek would be increased by 50 percent under a settlement approved last week by the Colorado water court. St. Louis Creek is a tributary to the Fraser River and the site of past habitat improvement projects by TU volunteers from the West Denver Chapter.
"We are pleased that the Court has provided trout in St. Louis Creek with the water they need," said David Nickum, Executive Director of Colorado Trout Unlimited. "This is a great example of how anglers can get involved in water issues and make a real difference for fish."
TU first entered the case last year when the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), the state agency that holds instream flow water rights on behalf of the public, agreed to reduce winter flows in St. Louis Creek below Division of Wildlife criteria for fish protection. The Board agreed to the reduced flows in a 1999 settlement with Denver Water. TU then filed a protest with the water court objecting to the deal.
"We wanted the CWCB, Denver, and the court to take another look at this issue," said Kelly Custer, attorney for Trout Unlimited's Western Water Project. "We felt that the CWCB's original claims were justified and that by reducing the protected flows, the trout population in the creek would be placed at risk."
Under the settlement agreement, winter instream flow rights for St. Louis Creek will be increased from 3.0 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 4.5 cfs downstream of its confluence with West St. Louis Creek. The increased level of flow meets Division of Wildlife criteria for winter fish flows.
"We appreciate the willingness of the CWCB and Denver Water to work with us to protect St. Louis Creek," added Nickum. "Thanks to this agreement, trout in St. Louis Creek have a brighter future."
Established in 1998, Trout Unlimited's Western Water Project fights to ensure that fish and rivers have enough water to survive and flourish. The project, in cooperation with Water Watch or Oregon, works to restore and protect water in key western rivers where diversions for irrigation, industry, and growing cities have depleted 'living' stream flows, and threaten fish stocks.
Founded in 1959 in Grayling, Michigan, Trout Unlimited is America's leading coldwater fisheries conservation organization. Colorado Trout Unlimited's 6,800 members in 25 chapters statewide are dedicated to the conservation, protection, and restoration of Colorado's trout fisheries and their watersheds.