New irrigation consumptive rules for the Arkansas Valley?

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Here’s an update on the proposed new irrigation rules for the Arkansas Valley, from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

A special panel put together by State Engineer Dick Wolfe met Tuesday in Pueblo to review the latest draft of the rules, which incorporated some of [Kansas’] recommended changes, but took others off the table. “We’ll take these back to Kansas, and then meet with the committee again in April before bringing the rules to court in May,” Wolfe said. “I want the in-state users to have the last say.” Kansas attorney John Draper sent a letter to the state last week asking for about 10 changes in the rules. Some were simple matters of wording, while others attempted to get at more substantive changes. All are important to Colorado, because the main purpose of the new rules is to head off any objections from Kansas under the Arkansas River Compact about reduced return flows because of efficiency improvements.

The major concession Colorado will make is including technical information about the Irrigation System Analysis Model which the state is developing to measure how improvements affect return flows. The model could, in theory, change over time as new data develops. It would also be secondary to specific engineering reports on any irrigation system and allow flexibility in how the state engineer could apply it, committee members agreed.

Colorado will identify the rules as specific to compact compliance, not include gated pipe as an improvement because of enforcement difficulties, apply the rules only to post-1999 improvements, maintain historic compact limits on potential damage to Kansas and keep language about nonconsumptive use in the rules, McDonald said. Colorado will modify the rules regarding designated basins, conditions in the Purgatoire Conservancy District, a more structured approach to variances that makes it clear the rules apply and addition of Kansas to the notification list when irrigation changes are made…

More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

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