Not every Montezuma Valley Irrigation shareholder is on board with the proposed lease for instream flows below McPhee Reservoir

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From the Cortez Journal (Reid Wright):

MVI shareholder Drew Gordanier said Monday he thinks it is unfortunate that the proposal has created “animosity among friends” within the organization. Gordanier said he personally would support the lease if it were for local agriculture instead of environmental groups. He said he does blame the MVI board for its efforts to seek additional income. “I have nothing against them. I just think they should seek other revenue sources,” he said.

Meanwhile, the water conservation board is silent on how it and supporting organizations would fund the proposed $500,000 annual lease. Linda Bassi, chief of stream and lake operations for the organization, said more details will be released if the project moves forward…

In addition, he worries that if the water is leased to environmental groups, they might be able to seize control of the water permanently. “My biggest concern is them leasing the water to the environmental groups,” Gordanier said. “If you lease that water, they can prove that you can live without it.”

MVI officials approached their shareholders Thursday with a proposal to lease some of their water to a group of organizations for wildlife and environmental efforts on the Lower Dolores River. At the time, [MVI General Manager Don Magnuson] said the need for water on the Lower Dolores River is well documented and he believes MVI has enough water to provide for the need. Under the proposal, which is still under negotiation, MVI would lease a maximum of 6,000 acre-feet of water a year to organizations spearheaded by the Colorado Water Conservation Board. The water would be used during three years of need sometime in the next decade. The water conservation board would be able to use the water for a maximum of 120 days during the irrigation season – which usually goes from May 15 to Oct. 15…

Although the price is still under negotiation, MVI is currently asking $500,000 per year, or $1.5 million for the three years of water. MVI hopes to use the money for capital improvement projects, such as putting ditches into pipe, which reduce the amount of water lost to leaks. A recent irrigation pipe project saves an estimated 1,500 acre-feet in water annually, Magnuson said.

But after the drought of 2002, which left reservoir levels precariously low, MVI shareholders – comprising mostly farmers and ranchers – expressed a reluctance to part with their water during Thursday’s meeting. They also feared any revenues gained from the agreement would be lost to bureaucracy or loan debt.

Water would come from Groundhog Reservoir, and would be released through the Upper Dolores River and McPhee Reservoir into the Lower Dolores River.

More Dolores River watershed coverage here.

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