The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District is finalizing purchase of El Paso County ranch to change the water rights to municipal uses


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

The district’s board will look at finalizing the purchase of the JV Ranch near Fountain in Southern El Paso County at its Oct. 13 meeting, and has dropped contracts to purchase water rights on the High Line Canal and Excelsior Ditch. Woodmoor still has active contracts on the Holbrook Canal, as well as an application in Division 2 Water Court to exchange water from Holbrook up the Arkansas River and Fountain Creek. A trial in that case has been scheduled for June 2013. Woodmoor announced its intent to purchase the 3,500-acre JV Ranch, which has water rights of 2,500 to 3,500 acre-feet of water per year as well as a 70-acre reservoir. The purchase price will be $25 million to $35 million, depending on the historic average amount of water determined when a water rights change case is filed.

Woodmoor, which serves about 3,200 homes near Monument, has been hunting for water rights since 2009, to find renewable water supplies. It relies on 16 wells in the Denver Basin aquifers, which are being overtapped by new development…

If the JV Ranch can produce the full 3,500 acre-feet annually, it would provide nearly the full amount identified in the 2009 water plan, but [Woodmoor Manager Jessie Shaffer] said the district is looking to strengthen its water holdings…

The district has scheduled three meetings in the next two weeks to explain the JV Ranch purchase to its customers.

Here’s a Woodmoor Association letter to residents dated today:

In May, I updated you on the latest developments in the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District’s ongoing efforts to acquire renewable water to transition the District away from dependence on the Denver Basin aquifers. That update included a Board decision to enter into a contract to purchase water rights from the JV Ranch, a parcel of land in southern El Paso County.

The Board at its October 13 meeting will consider finalizing the District’s purchase of the JV Ranch and the issuance of bonds to finance the purchase of this important asset. The cost for JV Ranch’s decreed water rights (approximately 3,500 acre-feet annually), land and reservoir will be between $25 million and $31 million, with the final cost dependent upon the outcome of Water Court processes that will change these agricultural water rights to be used in the District’s municipal system. The District is currently in the final stages of the purchase contract and is moving forward on the financing and closing of this purchase—currently scheduled for late October or early November 2011.

This purchase represents the greatest milestone in the District’s Renewable Water Plan. The JV Ranch will provide long-term water security and protect the value of properties in Woodmoor. As you know, acquiring renewable water to meet current and future needs is the District’s highest priority, and the Board and staff continually work to implement the District’s Renewable Water Plan.

Most likely, you are wondering how this purchase will impact your water bill. The Board and staff have been working diligently with the District’s financial and engineering consultants to finance this purchase while limiting the financial impact to customers. The purchase will be financed through revenue-anticipation bonds and repaid through a modest increase in water rates and the implementation of a monthly “Renewable Water Investment Fee.”

The implementation of the Renewable Water Investment Fee and water-rate change are anticipated to begin January 1, 2012. At the same time, property taxes in the District will actually decline as the WWSD mill levy expires on December 31. This mill levy allowed the District to develop water and wastewater infrastructure and fund the District’s portion of expanding the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Plant back in 1996.

[Click here for a brochure about the Renewable Water Plan, which includes a discussion of the January 1 changes in rates and an explanation of how the rates will be computed. Additionally, an interactive calculator for estimating the change in residential rates is available on the District’s web site at For information on commercial rate impacts, please contact me at 719-488-2525 x14.

The District has scheduled three public meetings to discuss the JV Ranch purchase, financial impacts on customer water bills and a general update on the District’s Renewable Water Plan. Please join us at one of the following public presentations.

More Arkansas River basin coverage here. More Denver basin aquifer system coverage here.

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