Drought news: The Pueblo Board of Water Works is forecasting $1,033,382 from one-year water sales this season


From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

For years, the Pueblo Board of Water Works has been the primary supplier of water sold on the spot market in the Arkansas River basin, making projections early in the year and sometimes amending them as conditions change. On Tuesday, the water board will consider a staff recommendation to sell, through one-year leases, nearly 14,000 acre-feet of water for about $1 million.

What’s unusual is that the average price for an acre-foot of water jumped more than 60 percent this year to more than $70. For the past five years, it was in the $40 to $50 range. The minimum bid increased to $67.55 from $35 last year. “It’s interesting what can happen in a sealed-bid process,” said Alan Ward, water resources manager for the water board.

Click through for the cool chart of past water sale history and the details about many of the bidders.

More coverage from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

Well groups last month complained that the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District was competing for augmentation water and potentially driving the price up on the spot market. This week, the Lower Ark district released a report that predicts at least 50,000 acre-feet of water will be needed to augment wells, surface-fed sprinklers and the Arkansas Valley Conduit by the year 2050. The report indicated water prices probably will increase anyway as the resource becomes more scarce.

On Wednesday, the Lower Ark board met with three large well augmentation groups to look at ways they could help each other, rather than fight over a shrinking water supply. “The worst thing is to realize we are all in the same boat and the boat is sinking,” said Scott Lorenz, manager of the Arkansas Groundwater Users Association. “The Lower Ark is in the same boat we’re in. We want to work with you to create a win-win situation.”

Two other well groups, the Colorado Water Protective and Development Association and the Lower Arkansas Water Management Association, also sent representatives to the meeting.

The three well groups provide replacement water for 117,000 acres of farm ground under 1996 state rules adopted to satisfy requirements of a U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Kansas v. Colorado case. The groups use various strategies involving water rights they own, water leases or purchase of water on the spot market…

About 240,000 acres of ground are typically irrigated each year in the Lower Ark Valley, according to reports from the Division of Water Resources. “The number of sprinklers (under the surface rules) grew 12 percent last year,” said Jay Winner, manager of the Lower Ark District. “How are we going to get water for the next generation?”[…]

The well groups are looking at a state-line credit of 44,000 acre-feet that has built up over the last 10 years. Next year, the state will look at lowering a presumptive depletion factor that could reduce the amount of replacement water that is needed.

The Lower Ark board Wednesday learned of a $105,000 state grant to look at the amount of water that leaks from ponds used to feed sprinklers. The savings in water, if accepted by the state, would reduce the amount of water that irrigators are required to repay.

The studies also could be useful to determining recharge rates, which could benefit well owners as well as the fledgling Arkansas Valley Super Ditch…

“We have to work together. We need storage. Water is wasted every day and is moving toward Kansas,” said John Sliman, an AGUA member who has plans to build reservoirs on the Excelsior Ditch. “Finding an answer 20 years from today is too late.”

More Arkansas River basin coverage here.

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