U.S. Energy files in water court to keep up its rights

Two big reservoirs possible

U.S. Energy Corporation has filed its “résumé” of conditional water rights. The company has plans for a major molybdenum mine on Mt. Emmons west of Crested Butte. In a full-page legal notice published in the August 15 Crested Butte News, the mining company outlines all of its water and what it is doing to keep the water rights current for its proposed Lucky Jack project.



“Water is a crucial resource for the molybdenum mining and milling process, and appropriation of these conditional water rights was an initial step in the overall development of the project,” the legal notice stated.
The notice describes water rights in the Slate River and Carbon Creek, along with dams resulting in an Elk Creek Reservoir and a Carbon Creek Reservoir. The dam for Carbon Creek would be 115 feet high and 990 feet long and would hold 1,000 acre-feet of water. The Elk Creek reservoir would be 220 feet high and 960 feet long with a total capacity of 1,600 acre-feet. In order to fill those reservoirs, U.S. Energy would take water out of Carbon Creek, Elk Creek, and the Slate River.
According to Lucky Jack director of communications Perry Anderson, the legal notice and “the application is a formality required by the water court. The frequency and time to process the information is dependent upon the court. We will wait to reply and/or act as the court requires.”
Public lands director for High Country Citizens’ Alliance, Dan Morse, said the environmental organization is looking over the notice. “We obviously have a strong interest in water rights associated with Lucky Jack,” he said. “We are evaluating whether HCCA should file a statement of opposition.”
According to the legal notice, opposition statements can be filed until the last day of September with the District Court water clerk.

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