From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
Sharing water, municipal conservation and tamarisk removal were listed as the best ways to improve water supply in a recent survey of the Arkansas Basin Roundtable. Also ranking high were rotational fallowing programs, like the type envisioned by the Arkansas Valley Super Ditch, and certain water projects, like the Arkansas Valley Conduit, that improve drinking water supplies for communities in the valley. The survey has been the topic of discussion for the roundtable for months, largely at the urging of President Gary Barber, who has been coaxing the group to finalize a needs assessment report to the Colorado Water Conservation Board. Both the report and survey were finalized at the November roundtable meeting.
The roundtable scored regional and statewide projects as well as methods along loose criteria that asked if they were viable, equitable and bearable, with a rating system that graded them 1-5, with 5 as the highest score. Then, the answers of roundtable members, who come from all parts of the Arkansas River basin, were averaged to provide a priority ranking for projects that are planned, already under way or have been completed during the first four years of the roundtable…
Projects to import more water from the Western Slope ranked surprisingly low on the list of viable, equitable and bearable options. More than a dozen strictly in-basin projects scored higher. The top three were the Green Mountain Pumpback plan, which primarily aids Denver, a Blue Mesa pumpback and the Flaming Gorge import plan. Ranking dead last on the list was the continued buy-and-dry of agricultural water rights, which was ironic considering the largest water deal in the Valley this year was the Pueblo Board of Water Works purchase of 27 percent of the Bessemer Ditch. The Pueblo water board, while buying the shares, offered farmers the option of using the water for the next 20 years, an offer nearly all of those who sold their water rights accepted.
More IBCC – Basin Roundtables coverage here.