Updated timeline: the Maroon and Castle creek conditional water storage rights

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Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

An aerial view showing the race track in Woody Creek, the parcel of land recently purchased by the City of Aspen to use for water storage, and the existing gravel pit in Woody Creek, which the city also is planning to use for water storage.

Also please see timeline from 1881 to pre-May 2018.

May 8, 2018, a status conference is held in the two cases in front of the water court referee. The city must respond to opposer’s settlement proposals by June 1. The next status conference is set for June 29. Meanwhile, the City of Aspen’s two due diligence applications remain before the water court referee, in a quasi-administrative, non-trial-track status.

May 9, 2018, Aspen Journalism and The Aspen Times report that city has reached agreement with one of the opposing parties in the dam cases.

May 24, 2018, A staff memo regarding stipulation agreements on the water rights is published by the city. The packet for a May 29 staff meeting also includes a proposed resolution.

The title of the resolution is “A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ASPEN, COLORADO, AUTHORIZING THE CITY’S ATTORNEYS TO EXECUTE STIPULATIONS WITH OPPOSERS TO THE DILIGENCE CASES FOR CONDITIONAL WATER STORAGE RIGHTS ON CASTLE AND MAROON CREEKS ON BEHALF OF THE CITY OF ASPEN, COLORADO.”

The Aspen Daily News reports on the city council’s pending vote related to moving its move water rights out of Castle and Maroon creek valleys, as does The Aspen Times, Aspen Journalism, and Aspen Public Radio. APR’s story was headlined “Aspen agrees to never build dams on Castle and Maroon.”

Source: City of Aspen

A map prepared for the City of Aspen that shows the five sites in the Roaring Fork River valley where the city of Aspen is proposing to store up to 8,500 acre-feet in water, based on its conditional rights to store water in the upper Maroon and Castle creek valleys.

May 29, 2018, The Aspen city council votes unanimously to approve agreements with five opposing parties in the Castle and Maroon creek cases. Agreements have yet to be reached with the other five opposing parties.

The The Aspen Times and the Aspen Daily News each publish stories about the vote.

The city issues a press release with the headline, “City Council Votes to Support Moving Conditional Water Rights off Wilderness Areas.”

As of May 29 there were stipulation agreements signed by five parties. Three of those parties are in both the Castle and Maroon creek cases. Below is a list, with links to the agreements signed to date, and made public by the city.

There is also a draft degree included as Exhibit A to the agreements for both the Castle Creek stipulations and the Maroon Creek stipulations.

The Pitkin County stipulation is listed at the top, as it is the most restrictive of the stipulation agreements yet signed.

It eliminates the use of the county-owned Moore Open Space as a potential storage site, while the earlier agreements with other parties include it.

Pitkin County – Maroon Creek Reservoir
Pitkin County – Castle Creek Reservoir

Wilderness Workshop – Maroon Creek Reservoir
Wilderness Workshop – Castle Creek Reservoir

Western Resource Advocates – Maroon Creek Reservoir
Western Resource Advocates – Castle Creek Reservoir

Double R Cross Ltd – Castle Creek Reservoir

ASP Properties, LLC – Castle Creek Reservoir

The agreement signed by American Rivers, and Colorado Trout Unlimited, as of July 3, 2018, included a new paragraph of language related to Aspen’s next diligence filing.

American Rivers – Maroon Creek Reservoir
American Rivers – Castle Creek Reservoir

Trout Unlimited – Maroon Creek Reservoir
Trout Unlimited – Castle Creek Reservoi

As of July 3, 2018, the following parties had yet to sign an agreement.

Roaring Fork Land and Cattle Co. – Maroon Creek Reservoir

USFS – Maroon Creek Reservoir
USFS – Castle Creek Reservoir

Larsen Family LP – Maroon Creek Reservoir

May 30, 2018, Western Resource Advocates issues a press release about the city’s vote, with the headline, “Conservationists reach settlement with Aspen to permanently move water rights for dams out of Maroon & Castle Creeks.”

WRA is also encouraging people to sign a thank you card to the city of Aspen, saying “We’re celebrating a landmark agreement two years in the making: the City of Aspen has agreed not to build dams on Maroon and Castle Creeks!”

Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

The Aspen municipal golf course, which sits between Castle and Maroon creeks.

June 19, 2018, High Country News publishes an article with the headline, “Aspen may stockpile water under its golf course.” The article reported that Aspen city officials believe 1,200 acre-feet of water could be “injected into the underlying aquifer, or would reach it through a basin specifically designed to draw water underground.”

June 26, 2018, A status conference held in both the Castle and Maroon creek reservoir cases. Four more parties, American Rivers, Colorado Trout Unlimited, Roaring Fork Land & Cattle Co. and Larsen Family LP, tell the court they are moving toward settlement.

June 28, 2018, The Aspen Times publishes a story from Aspen Journalism about the status conference.

Source: Wilderness Workshop

A 2016 rendering from Wilderness Workshop of a potential Maroon Creek Reservoir, which would hold 4,567 acre-feet of water behind a 155-foot-tall dam. The rendering was prepared by a professional hydrologist and is based on plans submitted to the state by the city 1965.

July 23, 2018, The United States of America signs stipulations with the city of Aspen in both the Castle and Maroon creek reservoir cases, according to James DuBois, an attorney with the U.S. Justice Dept. in Denver.

August 21, 2018, Cindy Covell, the water attorney for the city of Aspen, tells the water court referee during a status conference that the city has reached settlement agreements with all but one of the ten parties in the two cases, Larsen Family LP. The Aspen Times publishes a story by Aspen Journalism about the status conference.

Aug. 27, 2018, City of Aspen files a motion to re-refer the Castle Creek Reservoir case to the water court judge. The water court referee responds by sending the Castle Creek Reservoir case and sending the Maroon Creek Reservoir case to the judge, which the city had not asked the referee to do.

Aug. 28, 2018, City of Aspen files a motion to approve the stipulations signed by the parties in the Castle Creek Reservoir case. Below are the signed stipulations in the Castle Creek case, as filed by the city with the court.

Stipulations:

Pitkin County
USA for USFS
Colorado Trout Unlimited
Western Resource Advocates
Wilderness Workshop
Double R Creek Ltd
ASP Properties LLC

Sept. 6, 2018, City of Aspen files a motion for the court to adopt a proposed decree in the Castle Creek Reservoir case. A case management conference has been set in the Castle Creek case for Oct. 30 at 8:15 a.m. for 15 minutes. A case management conference has been set in the Maroon Creek case for Nov. 15 at 1:30 p.m. for 30 minutes.

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