Flaming Gorge pipeline: Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District looks favorably on the project

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The [Lower Ark] district board voted to back a plan by Fort Collins entrepreneur Aaron Million to build a 560-mile pipeline that could bring water into the Arkansas River basin. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is evaluating the project under the National Environmental Policy Act. “This is a letter indicating interest, and there is no commitment to the project,” said Pete Moore, chairman of the Lower Ark board…

Million came to the board seeking endorsement at its April meeting. Million Resource Conservation Group is raising $18 million to finance permits for the project, and has already put $2 million into the effort. Investors are being lined up for the second phase of the project, which would begin in 2013, if the environmental impact statement is complete at that time. Million’s plan is to build a project that would deliver 165,000-250,000 acre-feet of water from the Green River and Flaming Gorge at a cost of $2.5 billion-$3.4 billion.

A request for a water supply contract was made to the Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Flaming Gorge, in 2006. Million filed for a water rights permit in Wyoming in 2007.

Meanwhile, Steve Witte, Water Division 2 engineer briefed the Lower Ark on the proposed Arkansas Valley irrigation efficiency rules water court case on Wednesday. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

After the consumptive use rules were filed in September, more than 20 statements of opposition were filed in Division 2 Water Court at Pueblo. That resulted in a case management order to attempt to work out issues identified in the objections, Witte said. The state met with attorneys in the case on April 29, and with technical advisers of the objectors on May 3 to sort through the issues. “The discussion was good, and helped to resolve the misunderstanding of the rules by some of those who were not on the advisory committee,” Witte said. The committee changed the rules as Witte originally proposed them in 2006, more closely defining which on-farm or canal changes would be addressed.

Basically, surface-fed sprinklers or drip irrigation systems on farms are regulated, while canal lining or pipes ditchwide are subject to regulation. The rules are meant to avoid violation of the Arkansas River Compact with Kansas as well as to protect senior water rights in Colorado, Witte said.

At the meetings, Witte also explained how compliance plans outlined in the rules would work, and clarified that the state’s model of consumptive use, called the Irrigation Systems Analysis Model, would only be one way by which use is calculated.

More Flaming Gorge pipeline coverage here and here. More Arkansas Valley consumptive use rules coverage here and here

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