From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
Some well owners in the Arkansas Valley will benefit from a lease from Two Rivers Water and Farming Co. The company, which is buying farms and creating water storage in Pueblo and Huerfano counties, is subleasing 500 acre-feet of water, which it obtained in a five-year deal with the Pueblo Board of Water Works, to the Arkansas Groundwater Users Association.
Two Rivers will plant an additional 200 acres of vegetables on its Bessemer Ditch farming operation, company CEO John McKowen said in a press release. Two Rivers uses AGUA to augment wells it owns.
Two Rivers leases the water for about $210 per acre-foot from the Pueblo water board under an agreement made in 2011. McKowen said the water is being provided at cost, and Two Rivers will not use the full amount on its ground. The water will be part of AGUA’s replacement water to make up for depletions from well pumping. AGUA members along the Arkansas River will be able to pump at 30 percent of normal rates. Along Fountain Creek, the pumping rate will be 40 percent to 45 percent.
“The water made available to AGUA through our 2013 lease with Two Rivers will be invaluable in helping to blunt the effects of the ongoing drought. It will keep farms in production that otherwise would have been dried up,” said Scott Lorenz, manager of AGUA.
“Two Rivers’ commitment to agriculture is clear, and we look forward to a positive, productive relationship with them for years to come.”
Water for well augmentation plans have been hard to find this year. While the Pueblo Board of Water Works is fulfilling multiyear contracts, such as the one with Two Rivers, it is not planning to lease water on the spot market, a major source of supply for the well groups.
Last week, the Colorado Water Protective and Development Association, another well owners association, told its members that it has no water this year.
AGUA provides augmentation for about 250 farm wells, while CWPDA serves about 500 farms.