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Throughout the history of the American West, water issues have shown their ability to both unite and divide communities. As an imbalance between water supplies and demands grows in the region, KUNC is committed to covering the stories that emerge. Reporter Luke Runyon heads up our water beat, covering the Colorado River, snowpack and areas dependent on scarce water resources. We also partner with news organizations throughout the southwest to fully cover water issues in the sprawling Colorado River basin.

Officials Restrict Water Usage From Yampa River In Northern Colorado

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KUNC file photo
The Colorado Division of Water Resources placed a call on the Yampa River on Wednesday, Aug. 26 after a drop in water circulation.

The primary part of the Yampa River in Northern Colorado is under water usage restrictions for only the second time ever.

The move came because less water has been circulating to the lower part of the river, meaning users in that area are not receiving their legally protected share, the Steamboat Pilot & Today reported.

The Colorado Division of Water Resources places a call when owners do not receive the amount of water they have a legal right to. When a call is implemented, some users are forced to reduce or stop their usage of the water in order to send enough water downstream to fulfill the older water right.

Under Wednesday’s call, any water user along the Yampa River who has a water right given after Sept. 1, 1960 will have to reduce their usage.

Those who do not have a proper measuring device and head gate to regulate their flow of water must stop their usage regardless of their rights’ seniority.

The action will withhold some of Steamboat Springs' water rights, but residents will not notice any changes in service, said Kelly Romero-Heaney, a water resources manager for the city. The city will instead purchase stored water from a local reservoir.

“We are really well prepared for a water call on the Yampa,” Romero-Heaney said. “For us, we don’t see an interruption to service.”

Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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