Bessemer Ditch shareholders approve bylaw changes paving way for sales to Pueblo Board of Water Works

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Shareholders in the Bessemer ditch approved changes to the their bylaws which will grease the gears of potential sales — primarily to the Pueblo Board of Water Works. Pueblo is hoping to scale back their reliance on out of basin water. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

“Now we’ll start cleaning up and closing some contracts,” said Alan Hamel, executive director of the Pueblo water board. “We have some engineering to do, and we’ll be looking at the financing.”

The vote clears the way for the sale of the Columbine Ditch north of Leadville. Next week the water board will attempt to finalize the contract with Ginn Development, which has offered $30.48 million for the ditch for a new ski resort near Minturn. Aurora will have the opportunity to match the offer under a previous agreement.

The water board will spend more than $60 million on the purchase, including payments of $10,150 per share for 5,000 shares. More than 200 people showed up for Monday’s meeting at the Pueblo Convention Center, and about a dozen spoke passionately both in favor and against the bylaw changes.

“I didn’t think we’d get beaten this bad,” said Leonard DiTomaso, a Bessemer board member who organized a campaign to scuttle the rule changes. “I thought we’d win.” Other Bessemer board members at the meeting were also surprised at the wide margin of victory, although those who supported the sale were optimistic the rule changes would pass. The changes to the bylaws and articles of incorporation allow the shareholders of the Bessemer Ditch to use water outside the ditch boundaries for the first time since the ditch was incorporated in 1894. While the Pueblo water board intends to lease water back to farmers on Pueblo County’s largest ditch for at least 20 years, it is now assured it will be able to move water outside the ditch…

The purchase was undertaken partly as a defensive move against other water providers who have made offers on the ditch, and Pueblo may not need the water for 30 years, Hamel added. In response to one complaint, Hamel also said Pueblo water users have conserved water, reducing their per capita consumption by 15 percent since 2002.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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