Colorado Water Trust

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Here’s a shout out for Amy Beatie and the Colorado Water Trust, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Since state laws differ, trusts in other states operate under slightly different rules. In Colorado, a 1973 change in water law made the CWCB the only agency that could hold an in-stream water right or a right solely to maintain lake levels. Other water rights must be put to a beneficial use like municipal, industrial or agricultural rights. The state can do that by appropriating water, acquiring existing water rights or adopting policies that protect flows. New rights appropriated by the state are junior to most other rights on a stream. Flow protection usually requires court decrees to prevent injury to other rights.

Acquiring rights would yield the best results, but the problem in the past is that valuable senior water rights had to be donated to the state, without compensation, [Colorado Water Trust Director Amy Beattie] said. The trust acquires some rights, although its revenue sources are limited to grants or donations. It also works with land trusts or other conservation agencies to incorporate water rights into planning, Beattie said. “The Colorado Water Trust acts as a broker. It pays for rights to be donated,” she said Last year, the state Legislature set up two CWCB funds as a way to acquire senior rights. One is a $1 million appropriation for general water rights. Another $500,000 was set aside specially in a species conservation trust fund. “We collaborate with the CWCB,” Beattie said. “We pull from a whole menu of approaches to fix critically water-short stream reaches.”

More conservation easement coverage here.

Redstone hopes to build new wastewater treatment plant if stimulus dough becomes available

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From the Aspen Daily News (Troy Hooper):

[The Redstone Water and Sanitation District is] asking voters permission to increase district debt to replace Redstone’s 35-year-old sewage treatment plant should $1 million of federal stimulus money ever be available. The district already spent close to $200,000 to plan for the plant’s replacement. The plant serves about 140 users.

More wastewater coverage here.

Southeastern board scrutinizes new consumptive use rules for Arkansas Valley

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The board of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District was briefed on the new consumptive use rules that were filed by the State Engineer’s office in Division 2 Water Court last month. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The rules are meant to protect Colorado under the 1948 Arkansas River Compact with Kansas, Division 2 Engineer Steve Witte explained. They apply to improvements such as lining canals, putting pipe in off-farm laterals or using chemicals like PAM to reduce leakage. The most controversial part of the rules, however, applies to sprinklers fed by surface ponds. The rules apply only to 1999 improvements made after 1999, the last reckoning of water use by the two states. Witte has made a pitch for the possibility of depleting flows through the river with such improvements since 1996…

The difference is between ditches with adequate water supplies, like the Bessemer Ditch, and water-short ditches, like the Fort Lyon Canal. Improvements like sprinklers might result in more irrigated acreage or higher yields, hence more consumptive use, Witte said. “When we talk about senior rights with full supply, they may increase the flow to the river,” Witte said…

Witte said farmers are still welcome to use their own engineering to prove there is no harm to the river from improvements…

The rules also provide for compliance plans – the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District and Arkansas Valley Ditch Association are looking at possible versions – as a way to meet state requirements. There also are general permits for areas outside of the zone covered by a model developed for the Kansas v. Colorado U.S. Supreme Court case. That includes many tributaries and all pre-1884 water rights upstream of Lake Pueblo.

More Arkansas Valley consumptive use rules here and here.