Nestlé Waters Chaffee County Project: Commissioners delay decision on special use permit

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Tracy Harmon):

Commissioners debated everything from water rights to economic impact and traffic and wildlife concerns before deciding they need staff, especially a water attorney, to set out a list of conditions to consider before they can vote on the proposal.

Nestle’s proposes to augment the water it uses by purchasing water from the city of Aurora. And it is that proposal, that drew the biggest amount of concert from at least one of the three com- missioners. “I really struggle on this whole deal,” said Tim Glenn, commissioner. “The general manager (Terry Scanga) of an agency (Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District) charged with protecting the water of not only Chaffee but also Fremont and Custer counties raised a significant concern. “He is going to bat for every water right and every ag producer in the valley and I felt his testimony was compelling along those lines,” Glenn said. Scanga raised concern about the potential harm to the valley should Aurora evoke senior water rights during a drought year and cause problems with ag producers with more junior water rights. Glenn said 200 acre feet is “perhaps not a huge amount of water but when you get the compounded effect in a drought year when there is storage depletion” then the net effect could be as much as a 2,000 acre feet deficit…

Glenn suggested one possible solution could be persuading Nestle to use local entities to augment their water because they would be more sensitive to local ag producers. “I suspect Aurora really doesn’t care about Chaffee County,” Glenn said. Another solution, Glenn said, is to get Aurora to agree not to evoke its ability to use exchange water and cause more damage in a cycle of drought years, but “I seriously doubt that would happen.”

The commission will meet again Aug. 5 to continue deliberating the issue. At that meeting they will have a list of conditions they can impose which will help them with a decision.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

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