From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
Shareholders in the Arkansas Groundwater Users Association will learn the details at meetings this week about a proposed purchase of Excelsior Ditch shares by Two Rivers Water and Farming Co. Last month, Two Rivers announced it would acquire majority interest in the ditch, located east of Pueblo, for a $3.5 million purchase price. Two Rivers also would provide storage to AGUA in a proposed reservoir that would be located on Southwest Farms property.
Meetings are scheduled for Tuesday. They will be at 10 a.m. at Cottonwood Links in Fowler; 12:30 p.m. at the AGUA offices, 212 36th Lane; and 3 p.m. at Coke’s Diner in Fountain. “These are educational meetings that will allow shareholders to ask questions,” said Scott Lorenz, AGUA manager.
AGUA’s board approved a tentative agreement to sell 53.77 percent of the Excelsior Ditch shares to Two Rivers in May, subject to approval by its 320 shareholders.
AGUA provides augmentation water for well pumping along the Arkansas River and Fountain Creek. It uses other sources of water in addition to the Excelsior Ditch.
Even after the proposed sale, the water would be available to AGUA.
Two Rivers CEO John McKowen sees a mutually beneficial relationship with AGUA, and has provided some water leased from the Pueblo Board of Water Works at cost to keep wells pumping this year.
McKowen’s company has purchased nearly all of the Huerfano-Cucharas Ditch system, including Cucharas Reservoir. He has also purchased other farms on the Bessemer Ditch and under Orlando Reservoir in Huerfano County. His goal is to farm high-value crops and create more opportunity for other farmers. Plans include fallowing some land to lease the water and working out cooperative agreements with cities. “Acquiring the Excelsior shares enables Two Rivers to provide muchneeded capital improvements and implement its storage program. The storage facilities will benefit all water users on the Arkansas River and further the plans of AGUA and other shareholders of the Excelsior Ditch,” McKowen said.