Aurora hopes to settle lawsuit over the Lake Pueblo excess capacity contract with the Bureau of Reclamation


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

That’s why it has negotiated an agreement with the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, Aurora Water Director Mark Pifher said Friday. The Lower Ark board approved the agreement this week and Aurora City Council is expected to follow suit. “Our motivation was to close out the litigation that is still pending before the federal court,” Pifher said. “You never know what the court might decide to do, and we certainly didn’t want the lawsuit started again.”

The Lower Ark sued Reclamation in 2007 after the bureau issued a 40-year contract to store and exchange water at Lake Pueblo that allows Aurora to use the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project to remove water from the Arkansas River basin. Aurora entered the case on Reclamation’s side…

Aurora had the potential to spill this year when Lake Pueblo reached high levels in spring and a heavy runoff was looming. No spill occurred because runoff was late, agricultural accounts were drawn down earlier than usual and the Army Corps of Engineers waived flood control storage provisions. Still, since March, Aurora has provided 5,000 acre-feet of water at low rates to Lower Arkansas Valley irrigators on the High Line and Holbrook ditches. “This water comes at a time when we were in great need for supplemental water for irrigation,” said Bob Barnhart, superintendent of the Holbrook Canal. “With the drought the way that it is in Southeastern Colorado this has been a great help to us to keep our corn and alfalfa growing and healthy.” It has also allowed increased recreational use on Holbrook Reservoir in Otero County, he said.

The water has also helped the High Line Canal during the drought, said Dan Henrichs, superintendent, who noted in a presentation to the Colorado Water Workshop that farmers were able to buy water from Aurora for about 3 percent of the price they sold it to Aurora under a 2004-05 lease.

More Aurora coverage here and here.

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