Elbert County: Commissioners delay action on expanding Elbert and Highway 86 Commercial Metro District statewide and moving water from the Arkansas River near Lamar


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“It caught me by surprise,” said Henry Schnabel, chairman of the Prowers County commissioners. “I’m encouraged that the Elbert County commissioners aren’t jumping out and making a decision. I hope they are reasoning this issue on some level that can address the impact on the county where the water is being taken.”

Elbert County Commissioner Kurt Schlegel said his board is concerned with what happens in Elbert County. “We don’t have any say-so with water rights outside of the county,” Schlegel said.

While there is some speculation about whether the water would be used to support a burgeoning oil and gas development industry, Schlegel said the primary use for the water would remain residential and for commercial development in Elbert County based on public presentations.

The Elbert-86 metro district manager, Karl Nyquist, is traveling and could not be reached for comment. A spokeswoman said the district plans to share more details about its plans in the next month. “We’re looking forward to explaining the details of what we believe is a conscientious project that will benefit communities on both ends of the pipe,” said Michele Ames, district spokeswoman. “That’s why we’ll be holding public meetings soon in both Elbert and Prowers counties in hopes that community members will come, hear about the project and get their questions answered.

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

“Because of our free enterprise system, there’s nothing preventing anyone from doing a water project,” said John Stulp, who chairs the Interbasin Compact Committee. “Still, I think the people who have been involved in this project should have taken it to the roundtables.”[…]

The Colorado Water Conservation Board last year completed a study looking at various transbasin proposals. It found the costs of moving water from the Lower Arkansas Valley were high because of water quality and the pumping costs because of the increase in elevation. However, the CWCB has not studied this particular proposal.

“It was a surprise to me,” said Alan Hamel, CWCB member and executive director of the Pueblo Board of Water Works. “My personal hope, as a CWCB member from the Arkansas Basin, is that they will share the project with the roundtables, so issues can be identified and everyone better understands what’s being proposed.”[…]

The pipeline, rather than being advanced in secrecy, should be evaluated both for the potential benefits and harm, Hamel said. “The negative impacts of this project are entirely to our basin,” he said.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

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