Aurora: City files for change of use for Busk-Ivanhoe rights, teams with Climax Molybdenum to change Columbine Ditch rights

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Aurora bought half of the Busk-Ivanhoe water system from the High Line Canal Co. in 1987, following the purchase of the other half from the ditch company by the Pueblo Board of Water Works in 1971. Aurora filed for a change of use decree in Division 2 Water Court in December. Identical applications have been filed in Division 1 (South Platte) and Division 5 (Colorado River) water courts. The project brings water from Ivanhoe Lake, located at 11,500 feet elevation on a tributary of the Fryingpan River west of Hagerman Pass, through a former railroad and highway tunnel to Busk Creek, which empties into Turquoise Lake near Leadville…

{Aurora] has imported more than 3,000 acre-feet per year from Busk-Ivanhoe for the past few years. The Pueblo water board manages the system, which includes two live-in caretakers at Ivanhoe Lake, but Pueblo and Aurora share the water equally. In its application, Aurora states it intends to use the water for all purposes in two basins, rather than its existing decree for agriculture in the Arkansas River basin. Aurora would continue some of those uses, but would also apply water to its delivery and reuse systems in the South Platte basin. Aurora takes the water through the Homestake Project, which it shares with Colorado Springs. In the application, Aurora lists its Box Creek Reservoir, located between Turquoise and Twin Lakes, as a potential storage place, even though it has not been built. It also lists several recharge pits or reservoirs in the South Platte River basin that have not been built.

Meanwhile here’s the lowdown on the Columbine Ditch, from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Fremont Pass Ditch Co., owned by Aurora and Climax, filed an application for change of water rights in Division 2 Water Court in Pueblo last month. Identical applications were filed in Division 5 (Colorado River) and Division 1 (South Platte) water courts. The Pueblo water board sold the Columbine Ditch to the Fremont Pass Co. last year for $30.48 million, as part of its financing for the purchase of about 27 percent of the water rights on the Bessemer Ditch in Pueblo County.

The Columbine Ditch, located at 11,500-foot-elevation Fremont Pass 13 miles north of Leadville, is about two miles long and was built to serve irrigators in 1931. It diverts water from three small streams in the Eagle River watershed over the pass near Climax mining operations. The water board purchased the ditch in 1953 to meet long-term needs and changed the decree to municipal and other uses appropriate to its needs in 1993. The average yield of the ditch was about 1,700 acre-feet annually, but because of long-term limits that was expected to drop to 1,300 acre-feet per year. Aurora and Climax are seeking further uses, including snowmaking, wetlands creation and direct reuse among others. They also are asking the court to approve new places of use, including at the Climax Mine, a gravel pit reservoir near Leadville and in the Arkansas or South Platte basins as part of Aurora’s extensive water system.

More transmountain/transbasin diversion coverage here.

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