Southern Delivery System: Lake Pueblo storage negotiations with Reclamation update

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Colorado Springs, in the current negotiations with the Bureau of Reclamation for its proposed Southern Delivery System, argues that it would be fair to be granted the same rate Pueblo has for storage in Lake Pueblo, and to not pay an annual fee for conveyance.

Pueblo’s rate and payment arrangements were determined under different circumstances and for different reasons during negotiations in 2000. Pueblo received a 25-year contract to store nonproject water in Lake Pueblo in 2000 for a fixed price of $17.35 per acre-foot. The contract began at 3,000 acre-feet, and increases to 15,000 acre-feet by 2025. At the same time, it agreed to pay its share, 77.58 percent, for construction of the South Outlet Works and Delivery Manifold over a 25-year contract at 3.046 percent — about $169,000 annually, or $4.2 million over time.

Reclamation offered Colorado Springs storage and conveyance for $75 an acre-foot and an exchange contract for $50 per acre-foot, a deal termed “unacceptable” by SDS Project Director John Fredell at the end of a June 15 negotiating session. Throughout the negotiations, Colorado Springs tried to hammer home the point that as part of the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, it should be entitled to the same terms Pueblo received in its 2000 contract. Colorado Springs also maintains it should not have to pay to use the North Outlet Works, which it intends to pay for and construct, along with its SDS partners — Security, Fountain and Pueblo West.

The North Outlet Works was bumped up in Colorado Springs planning in 2008, after it became apparent the connection on the south end of the dam, either through excess capacity or enlargement, would not be available. Colorado Springs wants the power to sell its own excess capacity in the new connection to help pay for it…

Colorado Springs already benefits from the Fry-Ark Project through the Fountain Valley Conduit, as well as arrangements made for the use of Twin Lakes and Turquoise Lake by the Homestake Project, which includes Aurora as a partner. Fountain Valley (Colorado Springs, Security, Widefield, Fountain, Stratmoor Hills) is entitled to 25 percent of the relatively cheap Fry-Ark allocations each year, as well as ample storage space for project water in Lake Pueblo. But Colorado Springs and its SDS partners want more. SDS is seeking to use excess-capacity space in Lake Pueblo that was never part of the Fry-Ark Project to accommodate growth, provide redundancy and fully use water rights obtained after the Fry-Ark Project began. Negotiations continue July 15 in Fountain.

Pueblo, on the other hand, received contracts for parts of the Fry-Ark Project that were envisioned as far back as 1960. At that time, Congress was getting close to passing the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project Act, and a large treatment plant was envisioned at the base of Pueblo Dam that would provide water for Pueblo and communities below…

Concurrently, Pueblo was improving its own system. In the 1950s, Pueblo’s two water companies, which served either the north or south side of the Arkansas River, merged. Both operated river intakes, which are still used occasionally. There also were wells at the honor farm. When Pueblo Dam was completed in the 1970s, the South Outlet Works was built with a capacity of about 359 cubic feet per second. In all the planning documents, 310 cfs were reserved for Pueblo and the Arkansas Valley Conduit, as part of the Fry-Ark Project. The final allocation gives Pueblo capacity of 278.5 cfs (180 million gallons per day); Fountain Valley, 30.6 cfs; Pueblo West, 18.94 cfs; and future Arkansas Valley Conduit, 30.94 cfs. Pueblo is nowhere near using that full capacity, while Fountain Valley and Pueblo West already occasionally hit the limits. Land was set aside on federal property for a filter plant that would eventually be built to serve Pueblo and the conduit. In addition, there was an understanding throughout the development of the Fry-Ark Project that Pueblo would receive consideration on 20,000 acre-feet of storage space, said Terry Book, deputy director of the Pueblo Board of Water Works. “When we did our negotiations, we looked at what the legislation said and documented the history and correspondence between the parties,” Book said. Those records show a clear trail back to 1967 of official correspondence between Reclamation, Pueblo water board and the Southeastern district that led up to the 2000 negotiations. Over that time, Pueblo constructed a new water treatment plant north of the Arkansas River in 1977, and completed a major upgrade of the plant in 2003. By about 1999, the water demand in Pueblo was sufficient to construct the pipeline from the South Outlet Works to the water treatment plant…

Since the Pueblo contract, Aurora — a city of 300,000 east of Denver that uses the Fry-Ark Project to move water out of the basin — was given a 40-year contract. Colorado Springs was successful in gaining Reclamation’s approval of a 40-year contract after the first SDS negotiating session in May.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.

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