From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
The Pueblo Board of Water Works will lease as much as 5,500 acre-feet of raw water this year on the spot market. The leases primarily provide a source of supplemental irrigation water for well or surface irrigation in the Arkansas Valley, as well as boosting supplies for some industrial or domestic users.
“I suspect there is enough demand out there for that amount of water,” said Alan Ward, water resources manager for the water board.
There were no spotmarket leases last year because of the drought.
This year, snowpack levels already have reached the average peak, giving the water board confidence that it will have some extra water to make available.
“We’ve built in three levels of conservative cushions so that this won’t leave us short of water for the next two years,” Ward said.
The amount of water available could drop if the water board finds any takers for long-term leases under a new rate structure that will charge $630.63 per acre foot. Ward still expects at least 3,500 acre-feet to be available.
While one-year leases have been increasing slightly over the past five years, hitting the $68-$150 per acre-foot range in 2012, the water board has been taking a hard look at its long-term (more than one year) water lease rates. The new rate is based on 1.5 times the rate for raw water charged to Comanche Power Plant a customer within city limits, Ward explained.
The water board’s last long-term contract was in 2012 for a 15-year agreement with Ordway Feedyard for about $376 per acre-foot (the rate increases at the same rate as city water bills). Other long-term contracts now range from $200-$400.
More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.