From the Canyon Courier (Sandy Barnes):
The Evergreen Metropolitan District is offering the use of its senior water rights to guarantee a supply of water for two ponds at Buchanan Park.
Since discovering that the Evergreen Park and Recreation District has no identifiable water rights for the ponds next to Buchanan Rec Center, Ellen O’Connor, EPRD executive director, has been working with state water board officials and the EMD to resolve the issue. One possibility is using EMD water in the ponds rather than attempting to acquire water rights, O’Connor said at the Feb. 24 EPRD board meeting.
Because the park district has no clear water rights for the ponds, someone else could grab them, EPRD board member Peg Linn pointed out.
A worst-case scenario is that the ponds could be drained and dry, said EPRD board member John Ellis.
Before EMD water can be brought to the ponds, the Evergreen metro and park districts need form a partnership and reach an agreement. An engineering assessment and legal work also needs to be done at an estimated cost of $35,000 — an amount the EMD is asking the park district to pay.
“EPRD will be responsible for the costs associated with the proposal research,” said Dave Lighthart, EMD general manager.
During discussion of the issue at the Feb. 25 meeting of the EMD board of directors, member Mark Davidson advised caution while proceeding with the plan.
“We can’t get our water rights harmed,” said Davidson.
“We’re going to need to a lot more information to make our decision,” said EMD board member Scott Smith.
Both Davidson and others at the EMD meeting said the cost of using EMD water would be far less for the park district than going to water court and trying to gain water rights.
“In the final analysis, the plan that we proposed is the most sustainable,” said attorney Paul Cockrel, who represents the EMD.
“There’s a way to make this work,” said Ellis, who serves on the board of both the Evergreen metro and park districts. “This process would be less expensive than acquiring water rights.”
Ellis suggested that Lighthart make a presentation at the next EPRD board meeting on the plan to assist the park district. He and Linn are on a subcommittee of the EPRD board that has been examining the water rights issue in recent months.
A related issue is that the EPRD owns the dams at Buchanan Ponds and is responsible for maintaining them, said O’Connor.
A recent state inspection of the dams revealed the need for some repairs, she said. O’Connor expressed her appreciation to the EMD, which she said assisted the park district with a camera inspection to ensure that the dams had no major repair issues.
“The big concern was with the locks and pipes, and those are fine,” said Peter Lindquist, president of the EPRD board.
The EPRD also needs to provide the state with an emergency evacuation plan in event of the dam breaking, O’Connor added.
Troublesome water source
The source of water for Buchanan Ponds is Troublesome Creek, a tributary of Bear Creek that flows under the Highway 74 overpass near the property in Bergen Park. When the EPRD bought the property for Buchanan Park in 1994, it did not appear that water rights were attached to the ponds.
David Nettles, an engineer with division 1 of the Colorado Division of Water Resources, said he doesn’t see any water rights to the ponds, which formerly were part of the Village at Soda Creek development. In the early 1980s applications were filed by Gayno Inc. and George Alan Holley to acquire water rights for the planned project. Those rights were tied to an original decree dating from 1884 for the Lewis and Strouse Ditch.
It’s possible the rights were subsequently abandoned because of a failure on the part of the previous owners to file a required diligence report with the state, Nettles said.
The developers of the Village at Soda Creek were seeking a conditional water right for their project in the 1980s. According to state law, when a project is completed, the property owner must go to water court and file for an absolute right.
Every six years, the owner of a conditional water right also is required to file an application for a finding of reasonable diligence in the water court of the division in which the right exists. The owner of the conditional right has to prove that he has been pursuing completion of the project related to the water use for which he applied.
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