Lamar pipeline: Around 75 people attend first public meeting with the developer GP Resources, LLC in Lamar

lamarpipeline

From the Lamar Ledger (Lola Shrimplin):

Representatives of Otero, Bent and Prowers Counties, Lamar city officials, representatives from Kansas and concerned area residents filled the multipurpose room at the Lamar Community Center on Tuesday night to listen to Karl Nyquist with C & A companies, discuss his plans for a pipeline to take water from Lamar to Elbert County.

Calling the proposal a “win-win,” [Carl Nyquist] said the proposal would create jobs for Prowers County, while providing water for Front Range communities. “How we stumbled into water, is I came down here about 10 years ago and bought a farm, believe it or not,” Nyquist said. About 15 years ago, water tap fees were increasing rapidly and Nyquist said he began doing research and began purchasing land with water rights, the first of which was the West farm, east of Lamar…

The pipeline would run from Prowers County, into Kiowa, Cheyenne, Lincoln and into El Paso County.

An abandoned gas line easement has been purchased and the line will be put in its place, Nyquist said.A water treatment plant would provide diversification of jobs in Prowers County away from agriculture, Nyquist said, which would be a benefit. The jobs would be long term-permanent jobs, he said. Nyquist said there would be 63 sustainable jobs associated with the project and seven with the gravel pit.

Meanwhile, 300 or so attended a public meeting in Elbert County to hear about the proposed pipeline. Here’s a report from Ashley Dieterle writing for the Castle Rock News. From the article:

The meeting drew so much interest, some people had to sit on the floor of the school’s gymnasium.

Before the project can begin, the Elbert Board of County Commissioners must approve an amendment to the Elbert and Highway 86 Metropolitan District’s service plan.

Since Nyquist and his team first showed up on the board’s agenda on July 13 many people in the county have voiced concern. At the July 27 board meeting at the Elbert County Fairgrounds, more than 300 people attended, many of whom voiced their concerns about the project moving too fast. During that meeting Nyquist requested a 30-day extension in order to educate people in the county about the project.

“We would like the extension to be able to utilize this meeting and hear the comments from the public,” he said. “We believe it is a very important issue for Elbert County and we want to hear more from the public. We have heard very reasonable concerns, and we need to address those concerns.”

Questions are being raised the cost of construction and operations for the project. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Commissioners from Bent and Otero County raised questions at last week’s meeting, concerned about similar projects that might affect their own counties.

Prowers County commissioners, who have talked with Nyquist about his plans for a gravel pit just outside Lamar, were caught off-guard because they were not told it would become a reservoir to feed a proposed treatment plant for the pipeline. Prowers County would have land-use authority under 1974’s HB1041, which allows counties to regulate statewide projects. Eagle County used that law to delay development of the Homestake II project by Colorado Springs and Aurora. Pueblo County applied conditions to the Southern Delivery System under the same law. Because of the role of commissioners as a quasi-judicial body in the 1041 process, they are restricted in what they can say about the project.

Bent County commissioners questioned Nyquist’s estimates of brine disposal based on the experience the city of Las Animas has had in dealing with reverse-osmosis. Nyquist claimed only 3 to 5 percent of the water would be lost to brine, which would then be injected into deep wells. Las Animas has far greater losses in its process.

Bent County Commissioner Bill Long also questioned the claim that GP Water’s treatment plant would increase the tax base as promised just because a private company is building it. “What if it sells to a water district?” Long asked. Nyquist said those types of questions would be addressed in 1041 negotiations.

Finally, Chris Woodka reports on the opposition to the pipeline from farmers in the lower Arkansas Valley in today’s Chieftain. From the article:

“It took us by surprise. This is my grandfather’s farm,” said Diane Gass, whose family irrigates 360 acres on the Granada Ditch. “This is my heritage, which is the reason I become so emotional at the meeting. We’re not going to go down without a fight.” The meeting she refers to was called last week by GP Water to explain to local residents its proposal to pump water from a treatment plant near Lamar to El Paso, Elbert and other Front Range counties. Another public meeting will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Lamar Community Building…

While the pipeline would be slightly larger than needed to move the water historically used to irrigate 4,000 acres, there won’t be any push to buy up more rights, [Karl Nyquist, one of three principal partners in the project] said. “We’ll only take the water we own,” Nyquist said. “We’re working hard not to affect anyone on the ditches.”

Nyquist insisted the project will keep farm land viable, but didn’t entirely rule out the possibility that GP might purchase more rights in the future. “Never say never,” he said…

[Diane Gass’] farm produces wheat and hay. Much of the hay this year has been sold to Texas, where drought conditions are threatening the cattle industry. “What happens here could have a domino effect,” she said.

The larger issues are those affecting the towns near farms, something she didn’t think much about when she lived in Lamar. “When I saw a hail cloud living in town, I worried about my roof. Now I see one and think, ‘There goes my profit,’ ” she said. “When you’re talking about water to drink in these cities, nobody asks, ‘What are you going to eat?’ They just don’t think about it.”

More Lamar Pipeline coverage here.

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