Republican River Water Conservation District quarterly meeting recap

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From the Yuma Pioneer (Tony Rayl):

The Republican River Water Conservation District is moving forward with the environmental assessment needed for the proposed amendment to the Republican River [Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program]. The RRWCD Board unanimously approved spending up to, but not more than, $51,306.44, which is needed before the amendment can ever move forward approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Action came during the board’s regular quarterly meeting, held last Thursday in the spacious new Phillips County Events Center in Holyoke. TEC Inc. is being used for the study. It was said last week that the USDA always uses TEC for its envirnomental assessments. Based back east, it also has a corporate office in Denver, as well as several other locations…

District leaders explained the federal government always requires the requesting party, in this the State of Colorado, to pay for the studies. The State of Colorado has said it does not have money for the study, so has asked the RRWCD to pay for it. (Technically, it is the state, not the RRWCD, that enters into these CREP agreements with the USDA.) The amendment to the CREP cannot move forward without the environmental assessment…

The board approved another amendment last Thursday, this one dealing with the loan contract from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB). The CWCB has granted a $60 million loan at 2-percent interest for the pipeline project. However, the pipeline has been delayed while Colorado tries to convince Nebraska and Kansas to support the project. Therefore, the board voted to extend the completion date for the pipeline project by two years, to December 31, 2012. The CWCB also has approved the extension, or at least has indicated it agrees to it…

Legal counsel Dennis Montgomery and David Robbins updated the board on the pending arbitration trial, which took place earlier this week in Kansas City. (See last week’s Pioneer.) They noted Colorado and Nebraska came to an agreement several weeks ago, in which Nebraska finally agreed to support the pipeline. Among other things, they said Nebraska asked that some water be delivered early in the year and not delivered during the heart of the irrigation season, and then, if more is needed for Colorado to be in compliance with the Republican River Compact, for the rest to be sent late in the year. The lawyers touched on Kansas’ insistence that Colorado cannot make up for shortages along the South Fork by sending extra water down the North Fork. Robbins noted there is a sub-basin test, but there also is a statewide compliance test, as well as other tests, used to determine a state’s compliance to the compact. Robbins said State Engineer Dick Wolfe testified during disposition that the only way for Colorado to meet the South Fork sub-basin test would be to drain Bonny Lake State Park. Robbins said it was significant in that it was the first time a state official has said under oath that Bonny needs to be drained for Colorado to meet compliance on the South Fork.

More Republican River Basin coverage here.

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