Pueblo Board of Water Works starts work to close on Bessemer Ditch shares

A picture named arkbasinditchsystem.jpg

The Bessemer Ditch shareholders approved bylaw changes last week that paved the way for the Pueblo Board of Water Works to purchase shares to convert to municipal use for the long-term supply for the city. Now Pueblo has to get the change of use through water court. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Pueblo Board of Water Works expects to close contracts for its purchase of Bessemer Ditch shares in the next few weeks, but its work on converting the agricultural ditch water to municipal use is just beginning. “With the change in the Bessemer Ditch bylaws and articles of incorporation, we made one milestone. It’s ano-ther chapter in the novel,” Executive Director Alan Hamel told the board Tuesday. “We have a ways to go, but we made ano- ther step forward.”[…]

The purchase is part of a long-range water resources plan that will reduce Pueblo’s dependence on water imported from the Western Slope. The board Tuesday postponed action on another key piece of the equation: the sale of the Columbine Ditch. The board received a bid of $30.48 million from Ginn Development, which is developing the Battle Mountain Ski Resort near Minturn. “We’re still working on a very complex contract,” Hamel said. “This is something new to us, selling one of our assets. But we’re close and we’re optimistic we’ll have an agreement soon.” The water board could call a special board meeting in the near future to approve the Columbine contract. Even then, it would not be final, because Aurora would have 60 days to match the offer, under terms of an earlier agreement with the Pueblo water board.

Aurora is undecided about what it will do. “We haven’t seen the contract, so we don’t know what’s involved,” said Gerry Knapp, Aurora’s Arkansas Valley manager. “We will consider it, but we have made no decision.”

The Bessemer shares could yield up to 7,500 acre-feet, depending on what happens in water court. That will be a big concern of the water board as it works to close the sale, Hamel said. Hamel said financial, legal and engineering decisions will be needed before the sales are finalized by the end of this year. For two years after that, there will be legal action as the shares are taken through water court. After that, the water board will have ongoing responsibility for revegetation on the ditch.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Leave a Reply