From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
More than 100 people, representing nearly every major water interest in the Arkansas Valley, attended Friday’s meeting. State water officials also were on hand, including Gov. Hickenlooper’s water adviser John Stulp, State Engineer Dick Wolfe and Colorado Water Conservation Board members Alan Hamel and Travis Smith. Wolfe suggested the meeting as a way to hash out issues prior to a 30-day comment period when the Super Ditch files for a substitute water supply plan. “This is a one-year plan at this point. There is concern by farmers about how it will affect their water rights,” Wolfe said. “I am hoping this will allow the proponents to modify their plan before it is submitted.”
It’s anticipated the plan will be submitted in February for approval by April. It already has been approved by the Super Ditch and Catlin Canal boards, and the Pikes Peak Water Authority is expected to approve it soon.
The pilot program is a small step toward a water leasing-land fallowing program that could eventually involve 100,000 acres of farm ground in the Arkansas Valley. Only a portion of that would be dried up in any given year. This year, about one-fourth of the ground on of farms totalling more than 1,100 acres will be dried up. Only some of the ground will be dried up this year, and other areas will be rotated if the program continues in subsequent years.
One share on the Catlin Canal has a consumptive use of about 1.7 acre-feet of water per acre, while diversions can be as high as 5 acre-feet per acre. About 300 shares of water are anticipated to be used in the program, either for exchanges, delivery or return flows. Engineering is being completed on how return flows would be handled and how dry-up would be accounted for.
Heath Kuntz, engineer for the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District, gave an in-depth presentation on how farms were chosen for the program and the parameters that will be used. Flood, sprinkler and drip systems will be included. No fields with alfalfa will be included.