Fryingpan-Arkansas Project: Colorado congressional reps to hold town hall meeting over Aurora’s long-term contract with Reclamation

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U.S. Representatives Betsy Markey, John Salazar and Ed Perlmutter all plan to be in the Arkansas Valley next week hosting town hall meetings to discuss potential legislation to allow Aurora to continue using the Fryingpan-Arkansas facilities to move water out of basin. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for the Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

U.S. Reps. Betsy Markey and John Salazar will host a town hall meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday in Room 139 of the Bowman Building at Lamar Community College. Salazar and Rep. Ed Perlmutter will host a second town hall meeting at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Gobin Community Center in Rocky Ford. All three are Democrats…

Aurora has used the Fry-Ark Project to move water out of the valley with one-year contracts since 1986. The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District protested the practice as illegal up until 2003, when it signed an agreement with Aurora that paid the district $25 million. Southeastern unsuccessfully tried to convince federal lawmakers for the next four years to change federal law to allow Aurora to use the Fry-Ark Project and remains committed to support federal legislation allowing the contract. In March, Salazar said he was caught off-guard by the Lower Ark-Aurora agreement and wanted to hear opinions about any potential legislation from Arkansas Valley residents at town meetings. He indicated he did not support legislation at that time. Markey and Perlmutter have not publicly said where they stand. In April, the Lower Ark and Aurora sent proposed legislation to members of the Colorado congressional delegation that attached the authorization for Aurora to a proposal to study the feasibility of enlarging Lake Pueblo and Turquoise Lake as well as studying other water storage sites in the Arkansas Valley. The legislation also would allow excess-capacity storage contracts to water users in the Arkansas Valley that are not within the boundaries of the Southeastern district. Pueblo City Council voted to support the legislation at an April meeting, saying it preserves flows in Pueblo through 2004 intergovernmental agreements. The excess-capacity contracts are included in separate federal legislation, already signed by President Barack Obama, that would allow the Arkansas Valley Conduit to be built. The agreement also pledges Aurora’s cooperation in the Super Ditch, either as a buyer or seller of water through the land fallowing-lease management program. It also allows the Lower Ark district to buy into future Aurora water storage projects in the Arkansas Valley. Aurora also is committed to pay $2 million for Super Ditch and Fountain Creek studies under the March agreement.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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