From The Pueblo chieftain (Chris Woodka):
The board voted to enter a $1 million contract with Deere & Ault Consultants to provide engineering for its Water Court application to change the use of shares it has purchased on Bessemer Ditch. In 2009, the water board bought about 27 percent of the largest ditch in Pueblo County for $55 million. Nearly all of the Bessemer Ditch water is being leased back to farmers, but eventually the water rights need to be changed to allow for municipal and other uses in order for the water board to make full use of it. The board anticipates filing an application for the change in late 2012.
The $1 million contract with Deere & Ault covers four major areas, explained Alan Ward, water resources administrator:
Analysis to quantify the historic use of the water, including consumptive use, return flows and stream depletions.
– A description of future uses for those same areas.
– Conditions that would be needed to protect other water rights on the Arkansas River.
– A method of ditch operation that protects other Bessemer Ditch shareholders.
“We have committed to the Bessemer Ditch and the St. Charles Water District to consult with them on specific areas of concern and addressing those issues,” Ward said.
More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:
The Pueblo Board of Water Works Tuesday agreed to lease a little more than 10,000 acre-feet of water to other users in the Arkansas River, bringing in about $500,000 of additional revenue. The water board typically sells water from supplies it owns, but probably will not be able to use in the current year, through a competitive bid process. The leases do not include the $7 million in revenue projected from leases to Xcel, Aurora, Black Hills and others through longer-term contracts this year…
Prices for water that will be sold through the leases this year range from $42 per acre-foot for the Fort Lyon Canal, the valley’s largest ditch, to $400 for Holcim Inc., which has a cement plant near Florence. The largest amount paid was $144,000 by the Colorado Water Protective and Development Association, which augments return flows to the Arkansas River from depletions by both municipal and agricultural wells…
No water from the Bessemer Ditch, which is 27 percent owned by the water board, will be used in the leases. That water, under the terms of the 2009 sales of shares, is first offered to farmers on the Bessemer for the cost of assessments. Nearly all accepted that offer this year, Ward said.
More Pueblo Board of Water Works coverage here.