There’s a bad moon rising for some small well owners

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

From the state’s point of view, if wells are out of compliance, they are subject to being shut down. It’s a serious matter determined after 24 years of litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court against Kansas over the issue of violation of the Arkansas River Compact. The Supreme Court found a proliferation of well-pumping in Colorado had diminished the supply to Kansas under terms of the compact negotiated in 1948. Colorado did not begin to connect groundwater and surface water until 1969. That led to Arkansas River well rules in 1996 that required replacement of well water to the river and measurement of depletions.

“The existence of wells in these subdivisions depend on augmentation plans,” Witte said. “If those plans are not complied with, we have no recourse but to order the wells shut down.” The problem is not isolated, nor ignored by the state, Witte said.

There are 445 augmentation plans covering 9,195 small wells – typically 15 gallons per minute or so – in the Arkansas River Basin. Most of those are in areas where mountain lots have been carved out in subdivisions. “Everyone thinks they’re the first and are being picked on,” Witte said. “A lot of folks are completely unaware of the legal foundation that justifies the existence of the subdivision.” In fact, the state began looking at compliance with the court decrees that created the augmentation plans about five years ago, dedicating a full-time staffer to the task in the Arkansas Valley. Witte said at least five more years of work lie ahead…

So what should anyone buying mountain property do? “They should ask for the basis of the water right, and then check with the Division of Water Resources to see if the plan is in compliance,” Witte said.

More Arkansas Basin coverage here.

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