The Upper Ark’s Terry Scanga is keeping a close eye on Aurora’s leasing operations

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

[Terry Scanga’s] concern is what Aurora does in the years when it has more water than it needs to satisfy its primary service area — the city of 300,000 people. By entering long-term contracts to provide water to others, Aurora is increasing the chances it would have to call for more water from its sources in the Arkansas and Colorado basins…

What really irks Scanga is a deal Aurora reached last year with Nestle Waters North America to supply augmentation water for 200 acre-feet annually, at a cost of about $800 per acre-foot. The contract is for 10 years, subject to availability of water. “Nestle was a double whammy because it also takes water out of the basin,” Scanga said. At the time the deal was reached, the Upper Ark district had been negotiating with Nestle for a higher price, about $1,200 per acre-foot. Ironically, the Upper Ark was involved because the water would be provided by Salida, which through its own decree is restricted to use the water within its own service area — city limits. “Our rates were based on funding something needed in this basin. Salida couldn’t sell it under their decree, and Nestle didn’t have a decree,” Scanga said. “The money would have gone for storage, which would in the long run give Nestle a firm supply. The key was, we were expecting Nestle to come back and negotiate.” Instead, Aurora snapped up the contract, a move that four members of the city’s 11-member council actually opposed. Some said it had little benefit to Aurora. Earlier this year, the Upper Ark district filed comments on the substitute water supply plan Nestle needs to use Aurora’s water, specifically asking the Colorado Division of Water Resources not to allow Arkansas Valley water to be used in the Nestle contract. “The proposed lease of water by Aurora to Nestle has the potential to defeat the purpose of (the 2003) IGA,” attorney Julianne Woldridge wrote in the comments. The state agreed, and restricted Aurora to using Colorado River water in augmenting Nestle depletions in the final March plan…

In late 2009, Aurora and its new partner, Climax Mines, filed for a change of rights on the Columbine Ditch. In that application Aurora seeks to add additional places and types of use for the water in the Arkansas River basin, a move the Upper Arkansas district opposes.

Aurora also entered an agreement with South Metro Water Supply Authority in late 2009 that has the potential to add more uses for water from all three basins to the South Platte area. Aurora already provides water for everything from the upscale community of Roxborough, to gravel pits, to farmers downstream, through its South Platte system.

More Aurora coverage here.

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