Fort Morgan: Renaissance Land and Water Management LLC pitches partnership to change agricultural rights to municipal

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From The Fort Morgan Times (John Brennan):

Representatives of Renaissance Land and Water Management LLC pitched their proposal as an alternative to the Northern Integrated Water Supply Project, a water storage project in which Fort Morgan plans to be one of 15 participants. Renaissance spokesman Rod Guerrieri, a member of the organization’s principal team, said the company controls or has access to some 15,000 acre-feet of senior water rights and is looking for partners to develop those rights. Guerrieri said Renaissance could begin delivering water to Fort Morgan by 2014, but acknowledged that the company’s water rights would have to make it through water court and obtain a change of use from agricultural to domestic. Members of the water board and city staff as well as several local agriculture operators and water company officials repeatedly pointed out that doing so could be a very long process with a very uncertain outcome. Renaissance made an initial presentation to the water board several months ago, board chairman Jack Odor noted, and the board had asked at that time for clarification on a number of issues. It appeared many of the questions still had not been resolved to the satisfaction of the water board.

Renaissance’s plan would call for pumping water from “three different sources in multiple locations” from Greeley to the Sterling area, using what it called “high-quality wells” and senior water rights. Several different scenarios were presented that involved building pipelines varying in length from about eight to more than 40 miles to get the water to the Fort Morgan water treatment plant. The quality of the water that would be delivered to the city plant was another one of the concerns of the water board and city Water Superintendent John Turner. Guerrieri said the water would be below 500 in total dissolved solids, but Turner said the water the city now receives from the Colorado-Big Thompson project is about 50 TDS, and improving the quality to match the city’s current supply would not be feasible. “There’s a lot of things to be figured out, but if there’s enough interest, then we get engineers and attorneys in a room and figure it out,” Guerrieri said. “There’s a lot of technical issues, but we have done millions of dollars in engineering, and I think our engineers and attorneys could probably convince your engineers and attorneys.”

The Renaissance plan would also involve the “drying” of agricultural land — or taking water away from agriculture for city use — and Odor pointed out the board and city officials have long been against that practice. “It’s always been the city’s position that drying up ag land is not a good idea,” Odor said.

Ed. Note: I interviewed Mr. Guerrieri quite a while back. At the time Renaissance was planning a large housing development in Weld County which was where he planned to use the water they had purchased. The development would have led to the buy and dry as well. The development had an interesting side to it. Some common areas were to be used for high value agriculture such as grapes. Grape belt instead of green belt — i liked the idea.

More Morgan County coverage here.

One Response to Fort Morgan: Renaissance Land and Water Management LLC pitches partnership to change agricultural rights to municipal

  1. Brent Johnson says:

    In reference to the need for water resources for our communities, its seems that a fair balance is essential to pursue in response to standing interests of agricultural water needs and city needs. Both are crucial to the development of our communities and state. Water resources are finite and we have to learn to shift some thinking with the growth and needs of our community. It also seems short sighted to cut off all exploration of an option that provides a water resource, just because initially it does not meet the immediate parameters. In this day in age, there has to be efforts that can be made to bring the quality up to standards.

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