March 29, 2005

Public testimony opposes WOW application in current form - Commissioners meeting continued until April 11
By Lynda James, Correspondent

After an eight-hour hearing on March 28, Park County's Board of County Commissioners continued the Will-O-Wisp Metropolitan District's 1041 water permit hearing to April 11 at 9 a.m.

Twenty-five people, including several attorneys, homeowner association representatives, and individuals testified in opposition to the application.

The water permit is required by Park County to address impacts associated with new water development projects. The permit is needed before Will-O-Wisp Metro District can begin expansion of its water supply to serve the Tanglewood Reserve development just west of Pine Junction.

Issues raised at the March 28 hearing included: lack of appropriate studies; three current lawsuits involving the project, including a challenge to the water rights; a challenge to the location of the diversion point of the Glassman ditch, which would provide water for the Tanglewood development; firefighting abilities; the potential impact on residents' shallow wells along Elk Creek, and whether they might dry up; economic impacts on businesses near Elk Creek that are dependent on recreation; ecological impacts; whether it might be more appropriate to pump the water back up and into Elk Creek after going through a water treatment plant, rather than discharging it into Wisp Creek; and the application's lack of addressing the future impacts of a proposed storage reservoir.

All the people testifying requested denial of the application in its current form and asked that more studies be completed and the application be resubmitted.

On April 11, the applicant will be given time to rebut the testimony.

Public comment has now been closed unless new issues are raised by the applicant.

The applicant presented information Wednesday morning on impacts and mitigation to the brown trout population in Elk Creek.

Also on April 11, the commissioners will deliberate on whether criteria for the permit approval have been met. And they will discuss any appropriate conditions if they choose to approve the permit.

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