Salida: Town hall meeting discusses water issues

March 25, 2015
Salida Colorado early 1900s

Salida Colorado early 1900s

From The Mountain Mail (J.D. Thomas):

State Sen. Kerry Donovan (D-Vail) and Terry Scanga, general manager of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District, hosted a town hall meeting to discuss water issues Sunday in city council chambers.
Scanga opened the meeting by describing changes in Colorado water plans since 2002.

He said in 2011 a gap analysis of the various water basins showed the Arkansas River Basin will have a projected shortage of 54,000 acre-feet per year by 2035 or 2040.

He said various water conservancy districts are looking into conservation, identifying projects and processes, alternative transportation methods of water and new water supplies.

Another option being considered is rotational land fallowing and water leasing, which would lease water rights for irrigation from a section of land and transfer it to a municipality temporarily, which would increase water to an area that is experiencing a population growth, he said.

An issue raised involved poor irrigation and watering practices by agricultural users, which Scanga said is difficult to compare to poor watering practices of lawns in a municipality.

Another attendee asked about worst-case scenarios for future water shortages. Scanga said water conservancy groups in Arizona and Nevada have already started preparing for worst-case scenarios and have begun offering monetary incentives for users taking less water than before.

Donovan said she had been to Paonia and Delta Saturday and Crested Butte and Salida Sunday as part of her town hall meetings to obtain comments and gauge concerns of local residents about water in their basins.
She said feedback gained from meetings such as the one in Salida will be used to take the voices of locals to Denver.

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.


Colorado Parks and Wildlife leases water for John Martin Reservoir

March 24, 2015
John Martin Reservoir back in the day

John Martin Reservoir back in the day

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Arkansas River is rumbling a little higher through Pueblo this week as water released from Pueblo Dam makes its way to John Martin Reservoir.

About 5,000 acre-feet (1.6 billion gallons) is being released under leases made by Colorado Springs Utilities and the Pueblo Board of Water Works.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is leasing 2,000 acre-feet from Utilities and 1,000 acre-feet from Pueblo Water to boost levels at John Martin State Park.

“This is really exciting news, and we are thrilled to be able to provide additional water this year,” said Brett Ackerman, deputy regional manager for CPW. “Years of drought have really taken a toll on John Martin Reservoir and protecting this exceptional fishery has been tough at times. This will really help out a lot.”

The water will increase the permanent pool at John Martin as a safety net for the fishery.

Another 2,000 acre-feet are being moved to benefit the Lower Arkansas Water Management Association, which provides replacement water for irrigation wells below John Martin Dam.

“The plan is to be done by March 30,” said Water Division 2 Engineer Steve Witte.

The extra water in the river — flows were 640 cubic feet per second Monday, compared with 330 cfs a week earlier — is not having a big impact on the Arkansas River levee project.

“The aqua dam is holding up. We’re doing fine,” said Rick Kidd, manager and engineer for the Pueblo Conservancy District that is overseeing the levee reconstruction.

Heavy equipment work on the levee needs to be done during months when the river is at lower levels. The first phase of construction should be completed by the end of the month.

The release of water also will help lower Lake Pueblo levels to allow for flood storage by the May 1 deadline.

From the Prowers Journal (Russ Baldwin):

The additional water will increase the permanent pool at John Martin Reservoir to approximately 4,000 acre feet resulting in a safety net for the fishery, as well as more room on the water for boating, water skiing and angling. The water was purchased by Colorado Parks and Wildlife from Colorado Springs Utilities and Pueblo Board of Water Works and is currently in transit from Pueblo Reservoir.

“The weather this year was a huge help with regard to overall water levels,” said Ackerman. “But protecting the permanent pool would not have been possible without the help and cooperation of Colorado Springs Utilities and Pueblo Board of Water Works as well as the support of our sportsmen and anglers.”

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.


Pure Cycle sells 14,600 acres under the Fort Lyon Canal

March 24, 2015
Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters

Straight line diagram of the Lower Arkansas Valley ditches via Headwaters

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Farmers on the Fort Lyon Canal were shocked by news that 14,600 acres of farms on the Fort Lyon Canal were sold this week.

“The writing’s on the wall,” said Dale Mauch, a farmer who sits on the Fort Lyon board. “I’ve heard stories of three different dairies being built. If you see that happening, you know the water’s going to stay. If you don’t, we’re in trouble.”

Pure Cycle Corp. announced the pending sale of the farms to Arkansas River Farms LLC, an affiliate of C&A Companies and Resource Land Holdings LLC. C&A earlier backed a plan to pipe water from the Lamar Canal to the Front Range. Resource land has more than $550 million in assets in 25 states and Canada.

“Most people are still in shock,” Mauch said. “They’re asking, ‘When’s this company going to quit?’ They’ve got big money from back East. Is what happened to the Amity going to happen to us?”

Right now, no one can say.

Karl Nyquist, a principal with C&A, has not returned calls from The Pueblo Chieftain seeking more information about future plans. C&A is a Colorado real estate firm with residential and commercial real estate developments. But it also has 15 years of farming operations in the Lamar-Holly area, partnering with local farmer Bill Grasmick.

In 2011, Nyquist announced a plan, as GP Water, to pipe some of the water from Lamar Canal to the Front Range. Pure Cycle’s Fort Lyon farms have been targeted for dry-up so the water can be piped north.

But Mauch can see the effects of this sale.

Just 20 years ago, farms on the Fort Lyon, the largest canal in the Arkansas Valley, were selling for $700-$800 per acre (with water). When High Plains started buying farms in 2001, the price jumped to $1,500-$1,750 per acre. The latest sale raises the bar to $3,600 per acre, and there is talk that more sales are coming — up to $4,000 per acre.

“My son tried to buy a farm recently and the land was appraised at $2,500 an acre,” Mauch said. “With $4 corn and $150 hay, at $4,000 an acre? I can’t do it.”

He’s worried about the Fort Lyon after watching what’s happened next door on the Amity Canal. Tri-State Generation and Transmission purchased half of the Amity Canal beginning in 2005. He’s also worried that Main Street, Lamar, will be battered if water starts leaving the area.

Mauch believes such sales are inevitable as long as Front Range cities continue to grow.

“I can’t blame a guy for selling at this kind of money,” Mauch said. “These guys aren’t bad guys. They’re not doing anything illegal. The Front Range is going to continue to grow. It’s the way of the world. If GP doesn’t do it, the next company is going to do it.”

And what about the state water plan?

“I’d like to write the last page,” Mauch said. “Dear Governor Hickenlooper: After reading all this, here’s what it comes down to: You’ll only get the water you need at the expense of agriculture, because that’s where the water is. You only need it for growth.”

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.


Southern Delivery System: “It’s a wonderful, wonderful day to celebrate” — John Fredell

March 19, 2015

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Jakob Rodgers):

The last 50-foot pipe of the 50-mile-long Southern Delivery System arrived at a construction site Wednesday, marking a key milestone for the project as it nears completion next year both on time and under budget.

“We put to rest a lot of doubters that we’d get this done,” said Lionel Rivera, Colorado Springs’ former mayor, who helped approve the project.

With Kool & The Gang’s “Celebration” playing in the background, a truck hauled the massive blue pipe to a site just south of Pikes Peak International Raceway. Crews will place it underground in the coming weeks, completing a system spanning from Pueblo Reservoir to a new water treatment facility in Colorado Springs, which is under construction.

More than 7,000 of the steel, 66-inch-diameter pipes were installed since in 2010. That included a mile-long stretch bored 85 feet below Interstate 25 – a tunnel that was $10 million cheaper than creating a surface trench, according to Colorado Springs Utilities.

Current and former elected officials from across southern Colorado, along with several contractors who have worked on the project, were among scores of people on hand to watch the pipe being delivered. Many signed their names on it.

“It’s great – we’ve been at this a long time,” said John Fredell, the Southern Delivery System’s program director. “It’s a wonderful, wonderful day to celebrate.”

Three pump stations and the treatment facility are expected to be completed this year, with the system up and running for customers in Colorado Springs by the first quarter of 2016, Fredell said.

The project is on track to cost $841 million, below Colorado Springs City Council’s approved budget of $880 million in 2009, which did not account for inflation or rising material costs. The council also serves as Utilities’ board. Those savings rise to about $150 million when factoring in the cost of inflation and increases in material costs, said Fredell, who credited design changes to the pipeline and water treatment facility for much of the savings.

From the Denver Business Journal (Cathy Proctor):

One of the biggest water projects in the western U.S. will hit a major milestone this month, when the last piece of 50 miles of pipe is laid for the Southern Delivery System, the $841 million project to bring new water supplies to Colorado Springs and nearby communities.

The project includes 50 miles of pipeline, three pump stations and a water treatment plant. It will deliver water from the Pueblo Reservoir to Colorado Springs, Fountain, Security and Pueblo West.

More than 7,000 sections of blue-colored, welded, steel pipe 50 feet long and most of it 66 inches in diameter were installed on the project during the last 3 1/2 years of construction.

The project spent $204 million on pipe and installation, according to the Colorado Springs Utilities.

“The pipe is the main artery for this water project and we are extremely pleased with how the pipeline construction went,” said John Fredell, the program director for the Southern Delivery System project.

The project is in the final year of construction and Fredell said the costs are expected to be nearly $150 million under the original budget…

Northwest Pipe (Nasdaq: NWPX), based in Vancouver, Washington, manufactured the SDS pipe at its Denver plant.

Three contractors installed the pipe, Garney Construction, headquartered in Kansas City with an office in Littleton; ASI/HCP Contractors of Pueblo West; and the heavy civil division of Layne, a construction firm based in The Woodlands, Texas, which has four offices in Colorado.

Construction is continuing on other elements of the Southern Delivery System project, including a $125-million water treatment plant and pump station that will have the capacity to treat and pump 50 million gallons of water per day. Three pump stations will help move water uphill, about 1,500 feet in elevation, from the Pueblo Reservoir, also are under construction.

Construction on the remaining portions of the project are expected to be finished by the end of 2015.

From KRDO (Rana Novini):

Community leaders gathered Wednesday to celebrate the completion of pipeline construction for the Southern Delivery System (SDS). The project consists of more than 7,000 50-foot sections of steel pipe that have been installed over the last three and a half years. The pipe will transport water stored in the Pueblo Reservoir north to Pueblo West, Fountain, Security and Colorado Springs.

“It’s taken many years and it’s taken many city councils and it’s taken many leaders and many workers to accomplish this,” said Colorado Springs City Councilman Merv Bennett. “Our friends to the south, the Lord gave them the Arkansas River as their delivery system. To the north, Denver has the South Platte River as their delivery system. We have Fountain Creek and we ran out of that water in 1912.”

Proponents of the SDS argue the pipeline will ensure Colorado Springs and surrounding areas can continue to grow, especially toward eastern El Paso County. The region will have to worry less about drought and watering restrictions.

“Water is important. It’s the lifeline of a community,” said Lionel Rivera, former mayor of Colorado Springs. “It’s the way you grow and I think we’ve ensured the water supply for at least the next 50 years.”

Rivera was mayor from 2003 until 2011 and helped get the project rolling. He said Tuesday that it was one of the most rewarding things he did as mayor.

“It’s very exciting, a little bit emotional to see that pipe,” Rivera said. “It just made me think of all the stuff we had to go through to get this approved. We were told back when we started it that it couldn’t get done from a political standpoint, but we proved the doubters wrong.”

The project has had opponents over the years, many from Pueblo who are concerned over stormwater issues.

Though pipeline construction is complete, workers still need to build water treatment plants and pump stations. The first drop of water is expected to be delivered in spring 2016.

From The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

Construction crews are poised to lay the final pipeline link for Colorado’s biggest water project in decades — an $841 million uphill diversion from the Arkansas River to enable population growth in Colorado Springs and other semi-arid Front Range cities.

Eleven 2,000-plus horsepower pumps driven by coal-fired power plants will propel the water from a reservoir near Pueblo through a 50-mile pipeline with an elevation gain of 1,500 feet.

This is the first phase, moving up to 50 million gallons a day, for a Southern Delivery System that utility officials estimated will eventually cost $1.5 billion.

“It means we will have greater water security,” Colorado Springs utilities spokeswoman Janet Rummel said. “Businesses need water. Our communities need water to survive. It means we can continue to serve our population as it grows.”

Water challenges loom across Colorado, with state officials projecting a 163 billion-gallon shortfall. A few years ago, drought forced Colorado Springs to stop watering municipal parkways and gardens.

The diverted water can be used only within the Arkansas River Basin, officials said, ruling out sales to south Denver suburbs. And the river water, after treatment, must be returned to downstream farmers.

Colorado Springs residents have been paying for the project through water bills, which increased by 52 percent over four years. Utility officials spent $475 million from bonds.

The water will flow by next March, officials said. At full buildout, the system will store water in two new reservoirs east of Colorado Springs.

The new north outlet works at Pueblo Dam -- Photo/MWH Global

The new north outlet works at Pueblo Dam — Photo/MWH Global

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The Southern Delivery System pipeline’s completion was marked by a contingent of El Paso County officials and a smattering of Pueblo County folks as well.

For John Bowen, president of ASI Constructors of Pueblo West, the SDS project has meant bread on the table as well as water in the pipes.

“It’s generated $50 million in contract values for our company,” Bowen said during a ceremony to mark completion of the SDS pipeline from Pueblo Dam to Colorado Springs. “We were able to grow as a business during a time when a lot of contractors were laying people off.”

ASI was the primary contractor for the connection at Pueblo Dam, as well as 12 miles of the 50-mile SDS pipeline route, and relied on 70 local businesses for support services. The SDS project generated $800,000 in wages for ASI workers.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.


Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District board meeting recap

March 16, 2015
Graphic via the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District

Graphic via the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District

From The Mountain Mail (Joe Stone):

Groundwater levels around Yale Lake have dropped approximately 1 foot in the past 2 months since the lake stopped receiving inflows from the Thompson Ditch, but the area continues to retain water within 6 feet of the surface.

Chris Manera, professional engineer, relayed the information during the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District board of directors monthly meeting Wednesday in Salida.

Reporting on efforts to dry up land formerly irrigated by the Thompson Ditch, Manera said the water level in Yale Lake is decreasing as the reservoir loses water to seepage and evaporation.

Still, the depth of the water table “is not changing quickly,” Manera said, indicating the geological presence of a “high confining layer” within 20 feet of the surface that creates a saturated zone above the surrounding aquifer.

Manera said a release of water from Harvard Lake “had no effect” on the shallow saturated zone and indicated water would likely be released from Yale Lake in an effort to lower groundwater levels below 6 feet from the surface.

Reducing the water table to at least 6 feet below the surface would put the water out of reach for plants, a key requirement for drying up agricultural land in order to change the use of the water.

Manera presented measurements recorded at nine district piezometers and nearby private wells that show water levels at 6 feet below the surface just west of Yale Lake. To the south and east of Yale Lake, however, water levels remain closer to the surface.

Manera noted a 10-foot east-to-west drop in the subsurface water gradient with groundwater flows moving west to east, directly toward Franklin Spring, which feeds Ice Lake. Manera said the receding groundwater has not affected water levels in nearby Harvard and Ice lakes.

Terry Scanga, Upper Ark district general manager, updated board members on the situation at O’Haver Lake, indicating the district is releasing water from the reservoir for augmentation operations.

Scanga said the reservoir is currently at 84 percent of its 180-acre-foot capacity, and releases will continue through March and possibly into April, leaving approximately 146 acre-feet of water in O’Haver by the end of March.
Scanga said the Upper Ark district policy has been to keep O’Haver Lake full, but like any reservoir, O’Haver loses water to evaporation. Since the district cannot capture water out of priority, it must use exchanges to keep the reservoir full.

Recent policy changes by the Colorado Water Conservation Board have made exchanges up Grays Creek virtually impossible, prompting district officials to use O’Haver water for augmentation.

Scanga said he believes the district can work with the CWCB staff to create a policy to resolve the issue, and he is hopeful that a site visit this spring will help CWCB officials better understand the issues “on the ground.”

In other business, Upper Ark directors:

  • Learned that the state approved district augmentation totaling 482.1 acre-feet of water, an increase of 196 acre-feet per month due to the inclusion of augmentation for Nestlé Waters North America’s spring water operation near Nathrop.
  • Learned that conservancy district replacements for 2014 totaled 665.41 acre-feet.
  • Learned that proposed legislation to allow senior water-rights holders to donate water to in-stream flows has been changed to apply only to the Western Slope, but if passed, the bill would deprive downstream rights-holders of return flows.
  • Heard a report showing 2,515.7 acre-feet of district water in storage.
    Reviewed a summer streamflow forecast projecting 240,000 acre-feet of water flowing past Salida, which is 98 percent of average.
  • Learned about progress toward installing a new gauge near the Friend Ranch Reservoir outflow with Poncha Springs sharing the cost of installation and maintenance.
  • Discussed efforts by Young Life to upgrade its Trail West septic system with a pipeline connecting to the Buena Vista waste treatment facility, which would require Young Life to purchase additional augmentation water from the conservancy district.
  • Approved stipulations in two Water Court cases, 04CW96 and 11CW86.

  • A showdown over how transmountain diversions are calculated is brewing in the Colorado Supreme Court — Chris Woodka

    March 3, 2015

    From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

    A showdown over how transmountain diversions are calculated is brewing in the Colorado Supreme Court.

    At issue is last year’s ruling on a change of use case filed by Aurora in water court in Pueblo.

    Division 2 Water Judge Larry C. Schwartz ruled that Aurora is entitled to export an average of 2,416 acre-feet (787 million gallons) annually, even though Aurora waited more than 20 years to change the use of the water from agriculture to municipal.

    Aurora shares Busk-Ivanhoe with the Pueblo Board of Water Works on the system that formerly was operated by the High Line Canal. It brings water into Busk Creek above Turquoise Lake from Ivanhoe Lake through the Carleton Tunnel, which once was a train passage and later an automobile route across the Continental Divide.

    Pueblo Water has a 1993 decree changing its water rights from its 1971 purchase of its half of Busk-Ivanhoe. Aurora purchased the other half from High Line shareholders beginning in 1986, but did not file for a change of use until 2009.

    Western Slope groups and the state Division of Water Resources are arguing that Aurora’s claim to water should be reduced by 27 percent because the city misused the water after purchasing its share of the Busk-Ivanhoe system.

    They claim that Schwartz should have counted the 22-year period as zeros when calculating the historic use of water from the Busk-Ivanhoe system. Schwartz determined that the years where the water was used improperly should not count in the calculation, but said the amount of Aurora’s diversion should be recalculated separately from the amount awarded to Pueblo in 1993.

    Aurora’s share is slightly less than Pueblo Water’s (2,634 acre-feet average annually) as a result.

    Supporting Schwartz’s decision are the state’s largest municipal water providers, including Denver Water, Colorado Springs, Pueblo Water, Northern Water and the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, all of which bring water across the Continental Divide.

    They argue that water courts serve to prevent injury to other water users, not penalize inappropriate historic uses.

    “It’s not very likely to have a direct impact on any of our existing rights,” said Alan Ward, Pueblo Water’s resource manager. “We appreciate the court did not see a need to be punitive. That could be an issue with other water rights in the future.”

    The Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District also supports Schwartz’s position because of its own pending change case on the Larkspur Ditch, which it purchased from the Catlin Canal and uses to bring water over from the Gunnison River basin.

    Schwartz ruled in favor of Aurora in the case (09CW142) in May, and it was appealed by multiple Western Slope groups in October. Reply briefs in the case are due March 21, after which the court could hear oral arguments.

    More water law coverage here


    The Colorado River District, et. al. appeal May 2014 Aurora Busk-Ivanhoe diversion water court decision

    March 2, 2015

    From Aspen Journalism (Brent Gardner-Smith) via the Glenwood Springs Post Independent:

    A water court case in Pueblo over the size of water rights from the upper Fryingpan River delivered through the Busk-Ivanhoe tunnel to the East Slope has now blossomed into a Colorado Supreme Court case full of powerful interests opposing each other across the Continental Divide.

    A bevy of West Slope entities, including Pitkin, Eagle and Grand counties, the Colorado River District and the Grand Valley Water Users, Association are arguing against a May 2014 water court decision that gave Aurora the right to use 2,416 acre-feet of water from the Fryingpan for municipal purposes in Aurora instead of for irrigation purposes in the Arkansas River valley.

    The new decree gives Aurora the right to divert up to 144,960 acre-feet of water over a 60-year period.

    The other West Slope entities in the case are the Orchard Mesa Irrigation District, the Ute Water Conservancy District and the Basalt Water Conservancy District.

    On other side, a list of the most powerful water entities on the East Slope have filed legal briefs supporting Aurora’s positions, including Denver Water, Colorado Springs, the Pueblo Board of Water Works, the Northern Water Conservancy District and the Southeastern Water Conservancy District.

    Pitkin County is specifically arguing that the water court judge should have counted Aurora’s 22 years of undecreed use of the water for municipal purposes — between 1987 and 2009 — when determining the historic lawful use of the water right, and thus, the size of the right’s “transferable yield” from irrigation to municipal use.

    Instead, the judge set 1928 to 1986 as the representative sampling of years and excluded the 22 years of Aurora’s admittedly undecreed use.

    Expert testimony in the case indicated that if Aurora’s years of undecreed, or “zero,” use were averaged in, the size of the transferable water right would be reduced by 27 percent — which is what Pitkin County believes should happen.

    “When water rights have been used unlawfully for more than a quarter of their period of record, a pattern of use derived solely from the other three-quarters of the period of record will not most accurately represent the historical use of the rights at issue,” attorneys for Pitkin County told the Supreme Court.

    The Colorado state water engineer and division engineers in water divisions 1, 2 and 5 are also arguing alongside Pitkin County that the judge should have included the 22 years of “zero” use in a representative sampling of years.

    “This court should remand the case with instructions to determine the average annual historical use between 1928 and 2009, including zeros for years when Aurora diverted water through the Ivanhoe Tunnel solely for undecreed uses,” attorneys for the state and division engineers wrote.

    The various East Slope entities are arguing in the case that the judge did the right thing by not counting Aurora’s 22 years of undecreed municipal use.

    “The water court’s quantification of the Busk-Ivanhoe rights followed all of the rules for a change case — it was based on a representative period of lawful decreed use, it was not based upon undecreed use, and it employed several other factors endorsed by this court to determine a representative period,” Aurora’s attorney’s wrote. “The water court correctly determined it need not go any further, rejecting the appellants’ novel legal theory and finding it unnecessary to prevent injury.”

    UNDECREED STORAGE

    Meanwhile, other West Slope entities, including the River District and Eagle County, are arguing that Judge Larry C. Schwartz erred in his opinion regarding the right to store water on the East Slope without a specific decree to do so.

    “The water court misinterpreted the law and erroneously looked beyond the record in the original adjudication to conclude that no storage decree was necessary and then included water stored and water traded to others within the amount of the changed right,” attorneys for the West Slope entities wrote.

    But the East Slope entities support the judge’s conclusion regarding storage.

    “The water court correctly interpreted prior case law and ruled East Slope storage was within the ‘wide latitude’ accorded importers of transmountain water provided such storage did not result in an expansion of the Busk-Ivanhoe water rights,” attorneys for Aurora wrote.

    Attorneys for Denver Water also told the court that “it does not matter whether a decree specifically identifies storage in the basin of use of the imported foreign water” because “once imported, the foreign water can be stored wherever.”

    Built between the early 1920s and 1936, the Busk-Ivanhoe water system now diverts about 5,000 acre-feet of water a year from Ivanhoe, Pan, Lyle and Hidden Lake creeks, all tributaries of the upper Fryingpan River.

    The system gathers water from the high country creeks and stores it briefly in Ivanhoe Reservoir, which sits at 10,900 feet. It then sends the water through a 1.3 mile-long tunnel under the Continental Divide to Busk Creek and on into Turquoise Reservoir near Leadville.

    From there, the water can either end up in the lower Arkansas River basin, or via pumps, end up in the South Platte River basin, where Aurora is located, just east of Denver.

    The Pueblo Board of Water Works owns half of the Busk-Ivanhoe water rights, which have a primary 1928 decree date. In 1990, Pueblo received a decree to use its half of the water for municipal purposes, and that decision is not at issue in this case.

    Aurora bought 95 percent of its half of the Busk-Ivanhoe water rights in 1986, and by 2001 had purchased 100 percent of the right, paying at least $11.25 million, according to testimony in the case.

    INTO WATER COURT

    Aurora came in from the cold in 2009 and applied in water court to change its half of the Busk-Ivanhoe water to municipal uses.

    And it also applied for specific water storage rights, including in a new reservoir to be built on the flanks of Mount Elbert called Box Creek Reservoir.

    After a five-day trial in Div. 2 Water Court in Pueblo in July 2013, which resulted in 1,075 pages of transcripts and 6,286 pages of exhibits, Schwartz ruled in May 2014 in Aurora’s favor.

    West Slope entities filed appeals in October with the Colorado Supreme Court, which directly hears appeals from the state’s water courts.

    Opening briefs in the case were filed by West Slope entities in December, and a round of “answer briefs” and “friend of the court” briefs were filed last week by various entities.

    The West Slope entities now have until March 21 to file reply briefs in the case.

    Once the case is set, oral arguments will be heard before the Supreme Court justices in Denver.

    Editor’s note: Aspen Journalism is covering rivers and water in collaboration with The Aspen Times and the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. More at http://www.aspenjournalism.org.


    Follow

    Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

    Join 1,150 other followers

    %d bloggers like this: