Minturn: Ginn, attorney differ on water supply
Vail, CO Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Do Red Cliff and Eagle County have enough water to serve a proposed private ski resort If Minturn residents vote against it?
Glenn Porzak, an attorney who has represented clients with interests on the Eagle River for 35 years, said no. Minturn does not have enough water, either, Porzak said.
Bobby Ginn, chief executive officer of Ginn Resorts, disagrees.
“We’re not brilliant, but we’re not stupid,” Ginn said when asked about the water issue. “We didn’t spend this much time and this much money if we didn’t believe we were going to get all the way through it.”
The Ginn Development Co. bought the property for almost $33 million, and Ginn said it chose to apply for annexation into the town of Minturn because “you got to go through it to get to it.”
“It isn’t more complicated than that,” Ginn said. “To get from the main artery to the project you’ve got to drive through Minturn. You’re going to eat in Minturn, you’re going to go to school in Minturn, you’re going to impact Minturn. Minturn deserved the first shot at it.”
Porzak represents 11 clients who have filed “statements of opposition” to Ginn’s and Minturn’s claimed water rights. Thirteen other groups also have filed the statements, which weigh in on how and whether Ginn and Minturn should use water from the Eagle River. The groups include federal, state and local government agencies and businesses.
Porzak’s clients, which include Vail Associates Inc. and Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, already have rights to water in the Eagle River and they don’t want to sell it to Ginn, Porzak said.
Minturn has historically used 15 acre-feet of water and it cannot expand its water rights to serve Ginn’s development, which needs more than 1,000 acre feet, Porzak said. An acre foot is measured as the amount of water it takes to cover an acre one foot deep.
Ann Castle, Minturn’s water attorney, has said to have enough water, Ginn must build places to store it, such as a a dry lake bed south of town called Bolts Lake. So far, that looks possible, Castle said.
Castle also has said the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that towns can increase their water rights with a “normal” increase in population during a “reasonable” period of time.
Minturn has not used that much water in the past, so the town can’t claim rights to the increased amount of water. Red Cliff’s water situation is “identical” to that of Minturn, Porzak said.
“You can’t expand on historic use,” he said.
Eagle County only has 24 acre feet of water in Eagle Park Reservoir to give, he said.
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