From The Mountain Mail (Joe Stone):
The Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District board of directors met Thursday in Salida despite wintry road conditions preventing several directors and others from attending the meeting in person. Directors unable to make the drive attended via teleconference, and Cañon City Director of Public Works Bob Hartzman’s report on the Royal Gorge Area Erosion Control Project will be rescheduled.
Board members unanimously approved the 2015 budget as presented by Rich Young of Stotler and Young accounting firm. Young noted that tax revenue projections for the district decreased because of reduced property valuations.
During the budget hearing, Director Jeff Ollinger, Buena Vista, questioned the degree of separation between the conservancy district budget and the Water Activity Enterprise budget. He wondered if an increase in enterprise revenue could translate into a reduction in the district’s mill levy.
District Manager Terry Scanga responded, saying the taxes collected through the mill levy are specifically for the protection of water rights within conservancy district boundaries. Revenue generated through the mill levy, Scanga said, pays for legal fees, court filings and other costs necessary to ensure residents’ water rights are protected. While the conservancy district operates as a governmental entity to protect regional water rights, Scanga said the Water Activity Enterprise operates as a business that uses revenue generated primarily by providing augmentation water to clients. Scanga said those revenues are necessary for the enterprise to acquire additional water sources to meet growing demand.
In other business Upper Ark district directors:
Voted to oppose District 2 Water Court case 2014CW3049, filed by Fremont Paving & Redi-Mix Inc., to change the use of an agricultural water right on the Plum Creek Ditch to augmentation. Learned from Scanga that the state engineer is working to develop new rules that would allow new wells to be developed without a full augmentation plan, similar to wells drilled prior to 1985. Learned from consultant Ken Baker that Senate Bill 14-23, which Gov. John Hickenlooper vetoed this year, will be reintroduced during the next legislative session. Learned from Baker that a bill to provide for management of “invasive phreatophytes” will also be introduced in the legislative session. Phreatophytes are deep-rooted plants that draw water directly from the water table. Learned that Cañon City officials had contacted the Upper Ark district to inquire about purchasing augmentation water. Learned from attorney Kendall Burgemeister that the district’s stipulation in Water Court case 11CW61 has been approved. Adjourned to executive session “to provide direction to staff and receive legal advice for potential purchase of property and water rights.”
More Upper Arkansas River Water Conservancy District coverage here.