Lower Ark settles with Reclamation over Aurora long-term storage contract

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Colorado’s two U.S. Senators are looking closely at the deal struck between the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and the Bureau of Reclamation over Reclamation’s long-term storage contract with Aurora. Part of the deal is pegged to federal legislation that would authorize Aurora to use Fryingpan-Arkansas Project facilities to move water out of basin — via exchanges enabled by storage in Lake Pueblo — something that Arkansas Valley irrigators and water providers have opposed on the grounds that such movement was not part of the original authorizing legislation for the project. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Other members of the delegation were asked if they would look at such legislation. Sens. Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, both Democrats, responded to the question Monday. “Senator Bennet looks forward to speaking with the parties to the settlement to learn more details and to determine what next steps may be necessary,” said Deirdre Murphy, spokeswoman for Bennet. “Understanding that the two parties have spent the past several years negotiating this process, (Bennet) will work with them and with members of the congressional delegation to ensure that the needs of the water users in the Arkansas River Valley are addressed.

“(Udall) appreciates that the two sides have reached a settlement. He understands that an element of that settlement may involve federal legislation,” said Tara Trujillo, spokeswoman for Senator Mark Udall. “(Udall) plans to work with all parties – including the Bureau of Reclamation – to review the settlement and make sure that the farmers and other water users in the Arkansas River Valley are protected.”[…]

Should a federal water project intended to help farms and cities in the Arkansas Valley be used to wheel water? If legislation were adopted, what kind of limits would you put on it? If legislation were adopted, what kind of mitigation should be made to the Arkansas Valley?

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

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