High court halts Archuleta Co. 96-year water right

By The Associated Press

A water court decree that gave Archuleta County a 96-year conditional water right so it could plan for its growing population was reversed Monday by the Colorado Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled that the water court failed to properly determine what would be a reasonable water supply planning period. It said the water court failed to determine substantiated population projections and how much water was reasonably necessary for the planning period.

The court sent the matter back to the water court for further proceedings.

In 2004, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District and the San Juan Water Conservancy District sought water rights to serve Archuleta.

A water court decreed a conditional water storage right through 2100 for 29,000 acre-feet of water, plus the right to refill the reservoir for total annual storage of 64,000 acre-feet.

Trout Unlimited challenged the decree over concerns of how it would affect flows and trout population on the San Juan River. The fisheries conservation group contended the districts were requesting far more than they actually needed.