Lawsuit settlement reduces water division for oil shale

A western Colorado water district and several landowners and environmental organizations have resolved lawsuits with an agreement reducing the size of planned diversions.

The Yellow Jacket Water Conservancy District and Western Resource Advocates reached the agreement, which ended four years of litigation.

The district’s rights to build water projects east of Meeker, including a proposed 80,000-acre-foot reservoir, were at issue with environmental organizations questioning whether the district had conducted the due diligence needed to maintain the rights.

The settlement reduces the scope of proposed diversions from the White River, most of which had been planned for the development of oil shale.

The settlement represents a “win-win solution that will help secure a healthier future for local communities that rely on the White River,” said Rob Harris, a staff attorney for Boulder-based Western Resource Advocates.

The settlement, which was filed last week, contains no provision preventing Yellow Jacket from serving any water customer, including an oil shale project, said Sarah Klahn, the Denver attorney who represented the district.


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