From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
At the heart of the area’s storage system is Lake Pueblo, built in the early 1970s as part of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. It was the last large reservoir to be built in the Arkansas River basin. Lake Pueblo not only provides storage, but flood control and recreation as well. A full reservoir is good for recreation, but too much water would diminish its value for flood control. Storage remains the core purpose, however, and space is getting tighter…
Since 2003, municipal storage in Lake Pueblo has tripled, and half of the water in the reservoir is in temporary accounts that mainly serve cities. Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Aurora and other cities have sought long-term contracts for storage to replace the one-year contracts to provide better long-term planning. More municipal storage will be needed when the Arkansas Valley Conduit is built to serve communities east of Pueblo. “The reality of this is that it reduces the yearly available storage space in Pueblo Reservoir,” [Roy Vaughan, manager of the Fry-Ark Project] said. “This has resulted in water managers re-evaluating the need for additional water storage in the basin.”[…]
The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District has led efforts for more than 10 years to study enlargement of Lake Pueblo. The Preferred Storage Options Plan looked at enlargement of Lake Pueblo and Turquoise Lake as the best ways to gain needed storage space, and agreements among the largest municipal water users to open the study were reached in 2004. Attempts to ramrod legislation through Congress were abandoned in 2005, and new rounds of talks began that brought other interests to the table. In 2007, former Sen. Ken Salazar hosted public sessions that were making progress until the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District sued the Bureau of Reclamation in federal court for its decision to issue Aurora a long-term storage contract. The Lower Ark and Aurora reached a settlement in 2009 that could revive the PSOP legislation, although serious discussions among the as many as 12 different interests have not resumed…
It’s unlikely that any new reservoir would be built on the Arkansas River mainstem — as witnessed by the public outrage at Colorado Springs proposal to build a dam near Buena Vista in the early 1990s. Colorado Springs plans two large reservoirs on Williams Creek, a tributary of Fountain Creek, as part of its Southern Delivery System second phase. There are several gravel pits along Fountain Creek and the Arkansas River that could be converted to storage reservoirs in the future. There is abundant space in reservoirs east of Pueblo, such as John Martin in Bent County and the Plains Reservoirs in Kiowa County, but they are located downstream of the population centers to directly use them.
Click through for Mr. Woodka’s short bio of Ray Vaughan.
More Arkansas River basin coverage here.