Arkansas River basin: Two Rivers Water Co. hires Gary Barber

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Two Rivers Water Co. has hired Gary Barber, a figure in many key Arkansas River basin water issues, as its president and chief operating officer. Barber, a real estate and water broker from Colorado Springs, has been working for Two Rivers as its water rights consultant since July, said John McKowen, chairman and CEO of the company. “I’m excited,” Barber said. “The thing that makes it work for me is that we have a chance to restore some of the historic agriculture in the valley, it’s a good place to start.”

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The stated goal of the Two Rivers Water Co. is to bring about 20,000 acres back into production by acquiring and consolidating water rights along the Huerfano and Cucharas rivers. The project also envisions developing solar energy on part of the land it owns in Pueblo County. Two Rivers has purchased two reservoirs and thousands of acres of farm land for the project…

In November, the Colorado Water Conservation Board approved Two Rivers’ application for a $9.9 million loan toward rehabilitation of Cucharas Dam. The dam, 10 miles northeast of Walsenburg, eventually will be rebuilt just downstream on the Cucharas River. This spring, the existing earthen dam will be repaired to meet state dam safety standards in a $240,000 project. The construction of the concrete dam downstream of the earthen dam will be a $30 million project, and will begin this fall, [John McKowen, Two River chairman and CEO] said. The dam will store water from other sources in Huerfano County, including other rights that are purchased and potentially produced water from natural gas production.

Two Rivers also has purchased more than 90 percent of the Huerfano-Cucharas Irrigation Co., which once irrigated 40,000 acres in southern Pueblo County. Tests last year showed irrigated corn production still is viable on the land and McKowen is looking at higher value vegetable crops if markets can be found. “We tried several irrigation methods, but the dryland wheat did not work. Any farming will be irrigated,” McKowen said. “We plan to expand to 20,000 acres over time, and we’ve been able to obtain financing to do that. As we acquire the water resources, we plan to apply it and to consolidate the water assets.”

Recently, Two Rivers completed the $3.1 million purchase of a second reservoir in Huerfano County, Orlando Reservoir, 10 miles north of Walsenburg. The reservoir once was used to irrigate 1,000 acres of land in Huerfano County, but like Cucharas is in bad shape.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

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