Arkansas Valley augmentation plans will enable 3x the pumping this year over last

Typical water well
Typical water well

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Farmers who use wells will pump more than three times as much water than in 2013 under augmentation plans approved last week by the state.

“I think one of the things that helped out was that there was so little pumping last year that there are no return flows to be replaced this year,” said Steve Witte, Water Division 2 engineer.

The plans from the three major groundwater associations, including 1,780 wells, total nearly 102,000 acre-feet (33.2 billion gallons), compared with 32,384 acre-feet in 2013. That’s also about 115 percent of the 12-year average from the three major well pumping plans.

The largest group is the Lower Arkansas Water Management Association, which plans to pump 60,756 acre-feet this year, up from 13,534 acre-feet in July.

“In District 67, below John Martin Reservoir, they are influenced by Purgatoire River flows, so that’s had an effect,” Witte said.

The Colorado Water Protective and Development Association plans to pump 33,000 acre-feet, while the Arkansas Groundwater Users Association has plans for 8,231 acre-feet in farm wells.

Another factor in the ample well allotments is a reduction in the state presumption of depletions, which dropped to 36.5 percent this year, from 39 percent in the past.

Surface water replacement plans, primarily driven by large farm sprinkler systems also have been approved.

There are three major plans under the Rule 10 plans adopted in the 2010 consumptive use rules which prevent injury to downstream users, including Kansas.

On the Fort Lyon Canal, 161 improvements on 57 farms will require 1,000 acre-feet of replacement water. Non-Fort Lyon plans for 74 improvements on 35 farms will require 891 acre-feet. Both of the plans are administered by the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

A third plan, filed by LAWMA for four farms owned by GP Resources call for 836 acre-feet of replacement water.

More Arkansas River Basin coverage here.

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