River Surf Town USA? Glenwood Wins Water Rights for 3 New WW Parks on Colorado


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It already has the uber-sweet, river-wide Glenwood wave, which has proven a mainstay for river surfers (even if the eddy service is a tad difficult). Now Glenwood Springs, CO, has a potential three more whitewater parks coming on line, securing a conditional water right (Recreational In-channel Diversion, or RICD), for three new play parks on the Colorado River.

If all three are eventually built, it could make the community on the Colorado River   the king of river surfing in the country.

The new water right is tied to three proposed boating parks at No Name, Horseshoe Bend and Two Rivers. Although it allows for two structures at all three, the City plans to build a park at just one of the sites for now.

“The Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon is an iconic stretch of whitewater that attracts residents and visitors from far and wide,” says American Whitewater Southern Rockies stewardship director Hattie Johnson. “This was an important case to ensure the Colorado River, the heart of the Glenwood Springs community, will continue to be enjoyed well into the future.”

The approval ends nine years of work for the City, crafting agreements with stakeholders. It will now begin looking at designs for each of the three sites, source funding options and choose where to begin.

Other Colorado communities with RICDs for their whitewater parks include Steamboat Springs, Pueblo, Fort Collins, Golden, Avon, Breckenridge, Durango, Aspen, Basalt and Carbondale.

According to Colorado water law, the Glenwood whitewater parks would be able to call for higher flows during certain times of year — 1,250 cubic feet per second from April 1 to Sept. 30; 2,500 cfs between June 8 and July 23; and 4,000 cfs for five days between June 30 and July 6 — allowing surfers and paddlers to use the structures. The high flow days would allow Glenwood to host a competitive event around the Fourth of July. But among other complicated caveats, the City would be restricted to place a call for its water during dry years, and can’t use the RICD as the basis to oppose future developments needing water rights.

Last year, a proposal was scrapped that would have let natural stream features like a rapid, instead of man-made features, secure a water right for recreation. A second proposal that would have allowed cities to create a “recreation in-channel values reach” was also put on hold for the time being.





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