Arkansas River Basin: Pueblo Board of Water Works opposes Woodmoor’s change of use application

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Bill Paddock, water attorney for the Pueblo board, said the case needed to proceed to Division 2 Water Court Judge Dennis Maes immediately, rather than settling through stipulations before a referee. “This is the kind of case we need to move forward to the judge,” Paddock said during the [attornery’s conference Monday]…

The Pueblo water board said the supply for Woodmoor’s exchange plan is too uncertain to settle through typical stipulation agreements, and the case is speculative since Woodmoor does not yet control the supply of water it intends to move, said Alan Hamel, executive director of the Pueblo water board.
“We have to protect our Pueblo flow program,” Hamel said…

Woodmoor proposes to move water rights from the Holbrook, High Line and Excelsior ditches in Pueblo and Otero counties to homes in northern El Paso County. While it has contracts to purchase agricultural water rights, they have not been decreed as a source for a municipal substitute supply and there is no evidence that the change will occur.

The Colorado Supreme Court also has a pending case, City of Boulder et al. v. City and County of Broomfield, that could put new limits on municipal exchange applications, Paddock said.

Woodmoor submitted an engineering report last week, but Paddock and Steve Leonhardt, attorney for the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, said it was not sufficient to determine if Woodmoor’s exchange plan would work or is legal. “I’m concerned that virtually everything in this case is framed in the hypothetical,” Leonhardt said. “It’s very difficult to respond to the engineering in these circumstances.”[…]

Division I Water Court Judge Roger Klein sided last year with Broomfield in awarding an exchange decree even though the city did not own the water supply it proposed to use. Broomfield argued it had more flexibility as a government entity in complying with the anti-speculation doctrine. Boulder and Centennial opposed the case saying Broomfield had not proved it either owned the water supply or provided evidence that it “can and will” acquire the supply. Several Arkansas River basin groups, including the Pueblo water board, Southeastern district, Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, Pueblo West and Colorado Springs, entered that case on Broomfield’s side. All have exchange decrees pending that could be affected by the Broomfield decision. Oral arguments in the case begin today.

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.

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