IBCC: The Pueblo Board of Water Works hopes to sustain agriculture on the Bessemer ditch after converting shares to municipal use

bessemerditch1.jpg

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“We included a 20-year lease-back so we could work on other options to sustain agriculture,” Alan Hamel, executive director of the Pueblo water board, told a state Interbasin Compact Committee group earlier this week…

The IBCC subcommittee is looking at alternative agriculture transfers. The group met in Denver with the Front Range Water Council, which includes the state’s largest municipal water providers, and the Colorado Agricultural Water Alliance, which encompasses the state’s major agricultural associations.

The Pueblo water board now owns 28 percent of the Bessemer Ditch, about 5,400 shares. The ditch is the largest in Pueblo County, and a major factor in the local economy. Other cities also are looking at maintaining the viability of agriculture in their neighboring communities.
“People in the cities are figuring out that they also need to eat,” said Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District…

“We have to make sure that agriculture doesn’t become a sharecropper,” said T. Wright Dickinson, a Moffat County rancher. “We could be entering a time where agriculture could out-compete the cities in terms of the economic value of water.”

Cities also have concerns about sharing the water. “I can’t make any long-term decision and a big investment up-front knowing that all I’ve got is a five-year water supply,” said Mark Pifher, director of Aurora Water.

Meanwhile the Two Rivers Water Co. is busy buying up agricultural land and shares in the Arkansas River basin. Here’s a report from the Associated Press via The Columbus Republic:

Two Rivers Water Co. says it has finished raising $5.25 million, allowing it to close on its purchase of 2,500 acres of irrigated farmland in Huerfano and Pueblo counties…

Two Rivers bought 91 percent of the Huerfano Cucharas Irrigation Co. last year and added the Orlando Reservoir to its water rights portfolio in February. It says will be able to store more than 70,000 acre-feet of water when its reservoirs and canals systems are fully restored.

More IBCC — basin roundtables coverage here. More Front Range Water Council coverage here.

Leave a Reply