Lamar pipeline: The Elbert and Highway 86 Commercial Metro District withdraws its request of the Elbert County Commissioners to approve operations across county lines, Karl Nyquist says they will be back

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From The Denver Post (Karen Crummy):

The district’s retreat, which its director calls temporary, was met with loud cheers and whistles from about 1,000 people — the county has a population of about 22,000 — who showed up at the county commission meeting expecting a vote. Instead, a statement of withdrawal from the attorney representing Elbert and Highway 86 Commercial Metro District was read into the record…

Karl Nyquist, head of GP Water and the district director, said the pipeline is not on hold but didn’t provide any details about how he would proceed without authority to operate across county lines. “Our request to delay the vote on the district service plan amendment is simply to allow more time to educate the public and provide the facts about the project and its benefits,” he said in a news release. “The project will be moving forward in all respects despite this delay.”

The next time around, however, the district may face tougher challenges from county officials, who said they would make changes to the review process and who are facing intense public pressure. “We appoint you,” said Jim Eller, who teaches at Metropolitan State College of Denver, to commissioners Del Schwab and Kurt Schlegel. “You disappoint us, we dis-appoint you.”[…]

Elbert County, which does not have a renewable water source, relies on its aquifers, which are generally being depleted faster than they can be recharged. Many in the community fear that Nyquist will take too much water out or that his plan to store treated Arkansas River water in the aquifers will hurt their water quality. Additional concerns were raised after Nyquist failed to rule out using water for the oil and gas companies, which use millions of gallons for exploration.

More coverage from Barbara Preskorn writing for the Lamar Ledger. From the article:

Nyquist and his firm GP Resources, held a second stakeholder meeting at the Lamar Community Center, Tuesday, August 23 to share his business plan “Southeast Renewable Water Project Initiative: A new vision for Colorado’s water future.” Following the template offered by the Arkansas River Basin Roundtable, Nyquist’s firm is starting the process of obtaining comment from stakeholders about water issues. Several attorneys and water engineers in the firm’s employ were present as well as were representatives of the Lamar City Council, the Prowers County Commissioners and Prowers County Development, Inc. Colorado Springs water attorney David Shohet, retained by the City of Lamar, was also in the packed crowd.

“We are proposing a win-win sustainable business opportunity for Prowers County that will provide the region with a water treatment plant and with water storage in the gravel pit on land that I own. We have engineers studying the possibility of underground alluvial storage. One possibility for disposing of brine would be deep underground injection that is used successfully elsewhere.”

“Construction jobs and permanent operational jobs will be created, property tax will increase on the land where the treatment plant will be located because this is a private and not a government enterprise. We expect that school enrollments would go up as a result of these new jobs.” Nyquist stated…

When asked about how this project might be impacted by future extended extreme drought that this county is currently facing, water engineer consultant, Ken Knox stated that “Periods of extreme drought from the 1950s, 1977 and 2002 have been reviewed and that information is being considered in the GP Group’s plan. Few records exist from the 1930s, but indications are that the 1950’s actually were dryer.”

Jillane Hixson, Hixson Farms, stated that she was “under the impression that according to the Colorado-Kansas Compact agreement, river water could not be transferred from below the John Martin Reservoir.” Nyquist responded “This will be reviewed in water court when the application for change-of-use is filed. We will be able to show that no harm will be caused to downstream users, to wildlife or to the environment.”[…]

Roger Stagner, Mayor, City of Lamar, stated following the meeting “The Lamar City Council is watching this proposed business project very closely, but we do not have enough information yet to form an opinion as to whether this would be beneficial to the community or how much benefit it might bring to the region.”

Joe Marble echoed his statement “The Prowers County Commissioners are waiting to receive GP Resources 1041 permit application. We will then have enough information to review the proposal. We will probably need our own legal expertise to help us in this review process.”

More Lamar pipeline coverage here.

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