From email from Reclamation (Kara Lamb):
The final review of the proposed excess capacity contracts for the Southern Delivery System is now open, Reclamation announced today. Reclamation will be accepting written comments on the proposed final version of the contracts through Monday, April 25, 2011.
The excess capacity contracts were publicly negotiated between Reclamation and the SDS Participants.
To receive a copy of the draft contracts or to provide written comments, contact Carmen Boggs via mail, fax, or e-mail:
Bureau of Reclamation
11056 West CR18E
Loveland, CO 80537
SDS is a water delivery project designed to provide the communities of Colorado Springs, Pueblo West, Fountain and Security a reliable way to deliver water. The system consists of 62 miles of pipeline, a water treatment plant, three water pump stations, and two reservoirs. The project is scheduled to deliver water to these communities in 2016.
The draft contracts are available at www.usbr.gov/gp/ecao.
More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:
As part of SDS, however, each community will store water in excess-capacity accounts in Lake Pueblo beginning this year. Lake Pueblo was built as part of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project, authorized by Congress in 1962. Non-project water can be stored in most years. During negotiations last year, a rate of $36 per acre-foot was negotiated, with an increase of 1.79 percent annually over the 40-year life of the contract. Participants have spent the last few months deciding the timing of storage and other minor details. For the first seven years of storage, the bills will be reduced by a total of $6 million in recognition of oversizing the initial quarter-mile of pipeline from Pueblo Dam to the Juniper Pump Station. Once that section of pipeline is completed, it will be deeded to Reclamation. Consequently, payments through 2017 will total about $760,000. Payments from the four communities will total more than $1.25 million in 2018, and will increase each year by terms of the contract and as more water is stored…
Construction on the North Outlet Works will begin in May. ASI Constructors of Pueblo West is the lead contractor. The first section of pipeline will be 7 miles through Pueblo West, beginning in July. The pipe will be 5-feet in diameter, buried in a 12-foot deep trench. The total construction easement will be about 100 feet wide, with a permanent 50-foot easement. The Pueblo County north section of the line, mostly through 7 miles of Walker Ranches, will begin in September. The line from Pueblo Dam will begin in October. Construction on the Juniper Pump Station will begin by October 2013, Fredell said.
Meanwhile, rancher Gary Walker is concerned that Colorado Springs Utilities is bullying landowners along the SDS route, including Walker, who still holds out hope of keeping the pipeline away from his family’s holdings. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:
The Colorado Springs officials said there have been discussions with Walker about moving cattle and conducting revegetation tests along the route of the Fountain Valley Conduit, another buried water line that cuts across Walker Ranches. They said the tests are being conducted on Walker’s recommendation by the Colorado Natural Heritage Program at Colorado State University and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “There have been delays to getting on the property,” [Project Manager Keith Riley] said, adding that the delays have been on Walker’s end. “At a meeting yesterday, he showed excitement to get going.”
From Walker’s point of view, it’s more like agitation than excitement. He said he wants the revegetation tests done if he loses his bid to keep SDS off his property. He wants Colorado Springs to pay the costs of relocating his cattle to a nearby location, and he bristles at an offer by Colorado Springs to move them to a site owned by Utilities several miles away during construction. “The purchase of the land is just a small part of this transaction,” Walker said, when told about the meeting. “They are liars. They have never tried to meet with me on doing what needs to be done to protect the environment and Walker Ranches.” Some delays with the test plots have occurred because of weather or the availability of Colorado Springs contractors, Walker said. “We never allow them to enter if it’s muddy or snow-covered,” he said. “We’ve had several meetings and they’ve been productive.” Walker said he wants Colorado Springs to pay for moving the cattle to his Turkey Creek Ranch during construction because it would be less expensive than relocating operations to another site. “There’s $1 million worth of cattle out there,” Walker said. “That’s our livelihood.” Walker also objects to the route of the pipeline. The existing Fountain Valley Conduit jogs to the west after entering Walker Ranches, while the SDS route cuts straight across the land, crossing several deep arroyos. “The route is the wrong way to go,” Walker said. “It’s going to be causing problems for the rest of my lifetime and for the rest of Colorado Springs’ lifetime. If they had followed the old route, there probably wouldn’t have been a problem.”
Pueblo County is looking closely at appraisals done on behalf of Colorado Springs Utilities and the Southern Delivery System pipeline, according to Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:
“There’s a moral obligation to treat people in Pueblo County the same as in El Paso County,” Commissioner Anthony Nunez told officials for the Southern Delivery System during an update of commitments Colorado Springs agreed to under a 1041 land-use permit. “If you’re willing to pay more in El Paso County, why can’t Pueblo County be treated the same?” Nunez said the project largely benefits El Paso County, so the values in Pueblo County should be on a par all along the line. Instead, Colorado Springs is offering more in many El Paso County cases. Easements or purchases are needed along the route of a buried pipeline from Pueblo Dam to Colorado Springs.
Nunez’s comments came after County Attorney Dan Kogovsek asked SDS Project Director John Fredell about how property values were determined. “When you say you’ve offered 30 cents a square foot, is it one size fits all?” Kogovsek asked, adding that homeowners who live on the property would have to live with construction impacts. “Your contracts on the El Paso County, are they 30 cents a square foot?”
Some El Paso County contracts have been for more money, because comparable property sales in that area are higher. Sales in the immediate area were used, Fredell replied. He also defended the 30 cents per square foot offer, saying real estate professionals hired by Colorado Springs used actual sales data. Utilities has also worked with property owners who had fences, buildings, trees or pets on the lots by increasing the amount offered.