Southern Delivery System: Pueblo West trying to avoid committing water to Pueblo flow management program

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From the Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka): “‘We have high hopes that the county will come to their senses,’ said Steve Harrison, utilities director for the Pueblo West Metro District. ‘We don’t want to slow down SDS, and we understand their concerns. But if we can’t do exchanges, we can’t use all of our water.'”


Without the ability to exchange, Pueblo West eventually could lose up to 3,200 acre-feet of water, about one-third of the community’s water supply, Harrison said. Others dispute the number. Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Aurora, the largest participants in the program, were able to recover 71 percent of curtailed or foregone exchanges, according to Alan Ward, water resources administrator for the Pueblo Board of Water Works. Ward estimated only about 92 acre-feet would be lost.

An exchange is a diversion out of priority while an equivalent amount of water is released downstream. Pueblo West last year exchanged 776 acre-feet against its flows in Wild Horse Dry Creek, Harrison said. If the district used all of its exchange capacity, it could eventually exchange 1,500 acre-feet through this method.

Pueblo West relies heavily on transmountain water that can be reused to extinction, but loses about two-thirds of the flows before the water reaches the Arkansas River. The district eventually could operate a pump-back exchange that would increase the yield of its current rights. The district could exchange against return flows from each successive use of water. Pueblo, Colorado Springs and Aurora all have higher priorities for physical exchanges at Pueblo Dam, so there’s no guarantee Pueblo West could make its exchanges down the line, Harrison said. “Up until March 5, we understood we would not be part of the flow program,” Harrison said…

“We have a disagreement with the county and Colorado Springs and nothing is resolved yet,” Harrison said. “We want to solve it without embarrassing the county or losing water.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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