Southern Delivery System: Pueblo County commissioners make offer to settle Pueblo West lawsuit over facilities

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The settlement agreement was worked out last month by attorneys for Pueblo County, Pueblo West and other water agencies as a way to settle a lawsuit brought by Pueblo West in District Court in April 2009.
In the lawsuit, Pueblo West claimed it would lose water over time if forced to comply with conditions in the county’s 1041 permit that would allow the Southern Delivery System to be built.

In the settlement agreement, the county, Colorado Springs Utilities and the Pueblo Board of Water Works would allow Pueblo West to maximize return flows down Wild Horse Creek through a pipeline return. In return, Pueblo West would shelve its plan for a pumpback into Lake Pueblo through a wash behind the golf course…

Commissioners acted on the resolution Monday to preserve both the Pueblo flow management program created under 2004 intergovernmental agreements and Pueblo West’s participation in the SDS, according to the resolution.

Pueblo West is expected to take up the agreement on Aug. 24, said Director Jerry Martin. “Conceptually, we’re on board with it, but we haven’t heard it at a public meeting,” Martin said. “The lawyers have been preparing it, since there are more parties involved than just Pueblo County and Pueblo West.”

Meanwhile not all property owners along the SDS right-of-way have signed agreements with Colorado Springs Utilities. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The Maxwells were offered $2,100 by Colorado Springs Utilities for the easement on the back of the property, a sum they consider too small when thinking about the noise and dust construction will bring. The cleanup, upkeep and taxes on the property will still be their responsibility. “They don’t want to work with us,” Helen Maxwell said. “They think $2,100 is enough for us to suffer the inconvenience.”[…]

“My concern is that there is such a vacancy of property in Pueblo West that we’re going to lose value,” said Pam Williams, who doesn’t intend to sell the easement at the price she was offered and is now being told Colorado Springs City Council could begin condemnation procedures in September. The homeowners were sent letters saying they have until Wednesday to settle or risk legal action. They feel like they’ve been picked off, since Utilities rejected the Maxwell’s suggestion for a joint meeting.

[Darlene Garcia, land acquisition manager for Colorado Springs Utilities] said condemnation through eminent domain is a last resort, but will be used if settlements can’t be reached. “We have to make our construction schedule and that requires a clear right of way for the pipeline proposal,” Garcia said.

Colorado Water Wise 2nd Annual Conservation Workshop September 24

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Here’s the webpage for registration.

From email from the Colorado Water Conservation Board (Ben Wade):

The Colorado WaterWise (CWW) is hosting its 2nd Annual Water Conservation Workshop on September 24, 2010 in Denver. The CWW partnered with the CWCB, through a CWCB Water Efficiency Grant, to put on this workshop, titled “From the Mountain Top to the Tap: Using Tools and Policy to Make Every Drop Count”. Please save the date and sign up.

More conservation coverage here.

Arkansas Valley Conduit: Recap of Reclamation open house in Salida

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation kicked off a week of meetings dealing with the Arkansas Valley Conduit and a master storage contract sought by the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District. “Most of the impacts are below Pueblo Reservoir, but storage in Pueblo benefits us because we can release water for downstream calls,” said Terry Scanga, general manager of the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District. “Where the excess-capacity contract will help is if we have to spill Twin Lakes water and store it in Pueblo.”[…]

[Salida City Councilman Jay Moore] said Salida’s interest in an excess-capacity contract is to strengthen an already diverse water portfolio. “The main thing is that we can have an absolute surplus by storing water in Lake Pueblo and releasing it when needed,” Moore said.

Greg Smith, public works director for Poncha Springs, agreed.
“It’s a way for us to acquire and maintain additional storage,” Smith said…

At Monday’s open house, Signe Snortland, environmental specialist for Reclamation, clarified that only one Environmental Impact Statement and record of decision will be issued for the conduit and the master contract.

More Arkansas Valley Conduit coverage here and here.

Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership meeting August 25

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From the Montrose Daily Press (Katie O’Hare):

The Uncompahgre Watershed Partnership (UWP) will begin to take shape at a meeting next week open to agricultural, mining, recreational, community and any other entities with an interest in the river. That meeting will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 25 at DMEA headquarters in Montrose.

Those who attend can review a new water-quality report on the entire river, funded by the Colorado Nonpoint Source Pollution Program of the state Department of Public Health and Environment. “From my knowledge, this is the first report that has looked at the whole of the river, from metals to e-coli,” said Sarah Sauter, project coordinator for the UWP. She wants to review the report with the stakeholders to ensure its accuracy before releasing it to the public. The new group will monitor not only water quality, but also “the thoughts and priorities of the agricultural and mining communities and the bigger water players,” Sauter said.

More Uncompahgre watershed coverage here.

Southern Delivery System: Fourth public contract negotiation session August 24

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Here’s the release from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):

The Bureau of Reclamation invites the public to attend the fourth contract negotiation session for excess capacity contracts related to the proposed Southern Delivery System Project on Tuesday, August 24 and possibly continuing on Wednesday, August 25.

Reclamation is negotiating with the participants of the Southern Delivery System, including Colorado Springs and Fountain, the Security Water District, and the Pueblo West Metropolitan District.

The negotiation sessions will be held at the Pueblo Shrine Club, 1501 West McCulloch Blvd., Pueblo West, Colo., 81007.

Each session will begin at 9 a.m. There will be a designated time during each session for public comments. Reclamation is also accepting written comments on the draft contract.

For more information, to obtain a copy of the draft contract, or to submit written comments, please contact Kara Lamb (970) 962-4326 or klamb@usbr.gov.

More Southern Delivery System coverage here and here.