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Agreement between Summit County and Upper Blue Sanitation District provides greater certainty for District's water rights
Contacts:Andrew Carlberg, District Manager, Upper Blue Sanitation District: 970-453-2723Gary Martinez, Summit County Manager: 970-453-3401
BRECKENRIDGE – Upper Blue Sanitation District and Summit County have finalized a water rights agreement that includes $1 million in credits that can be applied toward fees for future workforce housing projects in the Upper Blue Basin.
“Water rights negotiations are some of the most complicated and drawn-out processes that governmental entities deal with in the West,” Summit County Manager Gary Martinez said. “But in this case, they resulted in a very tangible boost to our workforce housing efforts.”
The agreement stems from a water rights case originally pursued by the Sanitation District in 1992 to divert flows from the Blue River for the Farmer’s Korner Sanitation Plant. The resulting settlement reached by all parties to the case in 1996 contained provisions that would have allowed Summit County and the Town of Breckenridge to reopen the case under certain circumstances if their water rights ever became compromised by the plant’s operation.
A separate, more recent water rights case involving Summit County, the District, the Town of Breckenridge and the Colorado Water Conservation Board resulted in an agreement that alleviated Summit County’s concerns that diversions by the sanitation plant could jeopardize the County’s water rights.
With those risks mitigated, Summit County and Upper Blue Sanitation District were able to reach a final resolution to the original 1992 case. Summit County has agreed not to reopen that case at any point in the future. In exchange, the Sanitation District has provided Summit County with $1 million in credit that will be applied toward sewer tap fees for future workforce housing projects, such as the one proposed for County Road 450, just outside Breckenridge. Sewer tap fees for that project have been estimated to total about $660,000.
“This agreement is a big win for both the District and the County,” District Manager Andrew Carlberg said. “We gain a great deal of certainty in regard to our water rights, which means we’re not having to set aside nearly as much funding for future capital projects. And that translates to lower-cost sewer service in the long run.”
The Sanitation District and the County have a long history with these types of intergovernmental agreements and exchanges that have benefited Summit County residents. The District is limited in its ability to participate in workforce housing projects and other public projects, but it can exchange fees for services of equal value, such as it has done in this agreement with Summit County.