Arkansas Valley Super Ditch: Proponents tout the project as a way to meet increased demand for basin supplies


Terry Scanga, General Manager of the Upper Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District is calling the water court filing for the Super Ditch the Mother of all Change Cases. And so it may be. Re-quantification is the name of the game nowadays whenever an entity gets in water court. Objectors hammer applicants on consumptive use calculations, historical use, the reservoir one-fill rule, etc. The Super Ditch plods on however. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain:

While the program was set up as a way to allow farmers to retain water rights while selling water through lease programs, it could become a way to meet increasing demands within the basin. The boards of the Super Ditch and Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District met jointly for the first time Tuesday to brainstorm how water needs throughout the valley could be met through Super Ditch…

The key is to develop enough flexibility in how the water is used to make what is now agricultural water more valuable in the future. A hint of that is seen in the Lower Ark’s exchange application in water court, which lists 85 points of exchange [ed. emphasis mine]. A report accompanying the application explains the needs of augmentation water for sprinklers or wells, as well as a new supply for the Arkansas Valley Conduit that will require more than 50,000 acre-feet annually in the next 50 years…

While the Lower Ark’s goal is to keep water in the valley, those in the Super Ditch are looking to maximize the value of water. Some believe both can be accomplished. “The Super Ditch is about the gap in the Arkansas basin,” said Lower Ark General Manager Jay Winner. “The goal is to make the water so valuable that nobody wants to sell.”

Here’s a report about the Super Ditch pilot project substitute water supply filing from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The pilot program would lease 500 acre-feet of water to Fountain, Widefield and Security this year. A substitute water supply plan has been filed with the state engineer’s office, and a comment period will continue through April 9. The price will be $500 per acre-foot…

Opponents have put the program under a microscope, engineer Heath Kuntz told the boards.“We had 20 requests for specific information,” Kuntz said. “One engineer asked for less complicated accounting, and another wanted simpler accounting. They spent an hour arguing about it.”

At one point, he was asked to justify every cell on a spreadsheet. There were more than 10 million cells. The Super Ditch sponsored a meeting in Rocky Ford in January to explain the application to potential opponents. There have been several technical meetings since then to hash out details. Among the chief objections are that the Lower Ark should file a change of use case before seeking a substitute water supply plan for the program. The water for the pilot program would come from nine farms on the Catlin Canal.

More Arkansas Valley Super Ditch coverage here and here.

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