Legislation that would authorize Aurora to use Fryingpan-Arkansas facilities to move water out of basin would also fund study of expansion for Turquoise Lake and Lake Pueblo

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The $8 million study of storage in the Arkansas Valley is actually the primary stated purpose of suggested legislation by the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and Aurora that is meant to settle a federal lawsuit the Lower Ark has filed against the Bureau of Reclamation. “The additional storage space is crucial to Pueblo and the future of this valley,” said Bud O’Hara, division manager for water resources for the Pueblo Board of Water Works at Thursday’s town hall. O’Hara said the proposed legislation also provides water quality monitoring and fosters cooperation among all water users in the valley…

The legislation being proposed now also would allow other users in the Arkansas Valley outside Southeastern’s boundaries – which take in most cities, towns and farmland in tightly defined parts of nine counties – to enter excess-capacity contracts. Those types of contracts also have been issued for years by Reclamation as well. The Southeastern district presently has no beef with either type of contract, said Jim Broderick, executive director. “Those contracts are allowed, at a higher rate than for users within the district,” Broderick explained. The legislation guards against the increase of diversions from the Colorado River basin, but it does not explicitly limit future diversions from the Arkansas River basin. Aurora is limited in how much water it can take in the next 37 years by the 2003-04 agreements. An agreement with the Lower Ark district extend those limits beyond 2046. The proposed federal legislation does not speak to whether other water users could tap into the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project to move water out of the valley – neither authorizing nor expressly prohibiting others outside the basin who may seek excess-capacity contracts. That could leave the issue of where water is moved open to the interpretation by Reclamation, as it has interpreted past acts of Congress in making its rules.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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