Here’s a look at current municipal water supply planning from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. Click through and read the whole thing, it’s a nice synopsis up and down the Front Range and Arkansas Valley. Here’s an excerpt:
“I think it was my most embarrassing moment professionally. I used to say we were drought-proof,” said Alan Hamel, executive director of the Pueblo Board of Water Works. “Now we were in the middle of a 350-year drought; 2002 was a wake-up call.”
The water board had a drought plan at the time, based on records that went back to 1874, when it was formed. “Bud (O’Hara) and Alan (Ward) came into my office, but called first and asked me if I was sitting down,” Hamel recalled, talking about a meeting in 2002 with his water resources staff. ”They said our 1874 rights were about to be called out. I asked, ‘For how many days?’ They said, ‘At least six weeks.’ It was a good thing we were sitting down.”
After 2002 and the relatively dry years that followed, the Pueblo water board adopted a new strategy, planning for 100 years down the road. Immediately, the board doubled the amount of water it keeps in storage, and has since increased the amount in order to supply area power plants. Then, it went looking for new water rights, and found them in 2009, when it completed the purchase of more than a quarter of the Bessemer Ditch, Pueblo County’s largest irrigation canal.