Arkansas Valley Super Ditch: The alternative ag transfer plan has 15 objectors at water court

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

“It’s [opposition] unprecedented in this basin,” said Peter Nichols, water atto’rney for the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District at the boards monthly meeting Wednesday. “The only other plan that could compare was the issue of wells in the South Platte (basin).”

The district is seeking a substitute water supply plan from State Engineer Dick Wolfe on behalf of the Super Ditch, and hosted a meeting with potential opponents of the plan in January. Despite that effort, 15 objectors filed “hundreds of pages” of concerns about the plan prior to an April 9 deadline for comments.

Division Engineer Steve Witte said many of the objections are duplicative, and the state engineer is considering them at this time.

The Amity Canal, which is half-owned by Tri-State Generation & Transmission Assoc., and others say a water court filing is needed before the water plan should be considered. They also make the point that some of the impacts could continue longer than the five-year limit required by state legislation.

Meanwhile, the State Engineer has approved the Super Ditch Substitute Water Supply Plan. Here’s a report from Chris Woodka writing for The Pueblo Chieftain. From the article:

The draft substitute water supply plan was approved this week, complete with 46 terms and conditions added at the request of 17 objectors to the plan sponsored by the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

A major objection has focused on the fact that no change of use application has been filed in water court. Many of the 46 provisions of the plan deal with the sorts of issues typically covered in a water court filing.

The one-year plan will provide 250 acre-feet of water from the Catlin Canal to Fountain and Security in El Paso County. Water will be exchanged to Lake Pueblo, where it could be shipped via the Fountain Valley Conduit to the end users. In turn, about 175 acres on four Catlin Canal farms would be fallowed to provide the water needed for the deal. “I recognize that . . . the Super Ditch Co.’s ultimate goal is a long-term rotational fallowing program,” Wolfe wrote in the draft plan. “However, the only plan application before me is for 12 months and I do not believe the company’s ultimate larger goal precludes my authority to grant a one-year plan.”[…]

“In a way, this is good, since it would put the same restrictions on future attempts to move water in the Arkansas River basin,” said Jay Winner, general manager of the Lower Ark district. “The next time Aurora applies for a substitute water supply plan, we’re going to email those 46 terms and conditions to the state engineer.”

It’s still important to develop the Super Ditch, he said. “The Super Ditch is the future of Colorado water,” Winner said.

More Arkansas Valley Super Ditch coverage here and here.

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