From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
The conditions placed on a pilot program for the Arkansas Valley Super Ditch were much more restrictive than a water lease by Aurora from the High Line Canal in 200405.
Wednesday, the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District asked, “Why?”
Lower Ark water attorney Peter Nichols reviewed key differences between the substitute water supply plans for the two water leases:
● Aurora proposed leasing 18,000 acrefeet over two years, while the Super Ditch plan was for just 250 acrefeet from the Catlin Canal to Security and Fountain for one year.
● The Super Ditch had a more extensive process to provide information and technical details to objectors. More conditions, engineering requirements and scrutiny were placed on the Super Ditch.
● Some farms were taken out of the Super Ditch plan, while unlimited participation was permitted for the High Line Canal lease.
“The point here is that it’s gotten more difficult. The standards haven’t changed, but there are many more details needed to prove there is no material injury,” Nichols said.
Even though there were more restrictions, several water users filed a complaint about the plan in water court.
State Engineer Dick Wolfe, who attended the meeting, said comparing the two plans amounted to “apples and oranges.”
“We’ve been doing the same type of plan for decades,” Wolfe said. “But there are more terms and conditions as time goes on.”
In the High Line Canal case, specific concerns raised by other water users were addressed. Each case is unique, Wolfe added.
Nichols said Super Ditch will continue to work with the state for temporary plans before filing a change case in water court, a similar process used by well associations prior to obtaining water decrees.
“We’re not giving up,” Nichols said. “We’ll be back next year, working to come up with a true alternative to buy anddry . ”
Meanwhile, State Engineer Dick Wolfe told some at the meeting the he would not suspend the rules for augmentation. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. Here’s an excerpt:
[Lamar farmer Dale Mauch] is among farmers trying to loosen up state waterreplacement requirements by trying to prove that
irrigation ponds that feed sprinklers leak more than presumed by a state formula.
The state presumes 3 percent leakage, while farmers say it’s closer to 20 to 25 percent.
Wolfe replied that the state’s actions are bound by courtdecreed rules that make it difficult to alter or suspend
any of the provisions.
“Dale, the state’s computer model doesn’t agree with you,” another farmer joked.
“I live in reality,” Mauch laughed.
Pueblo County farmer Tom Rusler, who farms on the Bessemer Ditch, asked if the accounting for the rules could
be done after the irrigation season, rather than in advance.
Wolfe said the rules require a plan prior to the irrigation season and can’t be altered without a change in the court
decree. Wolfe said the rules could be amended to reflect the results of the pond study. Additionally, the Lower Ark
district, which administers a group plan for water replacement under Rule 10 of the rules, can amend its report.
More water law coverage here.
More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:
A familiar face has joined the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District as the director from Crowley County.
Jim Valliant, 76, was appointed to the board this month by Deborah Eyler, chief judge of Pueblo District Court. He lives in Olney Springs and replaces Pete Moore, who left the board in May when he moved to Nebraska.
“I’ve been in water conservation all my life,” Valliant said. “I came from an 8-inch rain area in Pecos, Texas. I’ve always encouraged people to do everything they can to save water.”
Valliant came to Crowley County in 1978, and was manager of the Foxley Cattle Co. He also managed farms for the Navajo Irrigation Project in New Mexico and worked with Anderson Seed from Lamar.
More Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District coverage here.