From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
Pueblo County is angling to become the owner of the most senior water rights on Fountain Creek.
The purchase would be aided by the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District, which voted Friday to line up financing for the deal, which is expected to complete by the end of the year.
“I see this as a fascinating project. This meets all the charges the district has: flood control, recreation, restoration and conservation,” Commissioner Terry Hart said. “I love history. I’m thrilled with it.”
The Greenview Trust property, located 8 miles north of Pueblo along Overton Road, is about 360 acres with water rights dating back to 1862. Like other farms on Fountain Creek, it has faced erosion issues for years, and the owners sued the city of Colorado Springs after the 1999 flood over the growth that increased the base flows in the waterway.
Negotiations are still underway for the purchase of the property and details cannot be discussed publicly, Hart said.
“We still have some due diligence issues,” Hart said.
The county has some other water rights, but the Fountain Creek purchase would give it more legal standing on water rights issues as projects develop along Fountain Creek.
The Fountain Creek district board voted 9-0 to line up some of the financing for the possibly $3.72 million project in open session Friday, since public grants and loans are involved.
Collateral for the $1 million loan from the CWCB would be the upcoming payments by Colorado Springs Utilities to the Fountain Creek district under the 1041 permit with Pueblo County. The first payment would come due in early 2017, if the Southern Delivery System goes online by 2016, as expected.
The property could be used for wetlands or for detention facilities that would aid flood control.
Pueblo County intends to put a conservation easement on the property as well because of its historic significance, Hart said.
“This is exactly what we want to be doing as a district,” said Richard Skorman, who sits on the Fountain Creek board.
“The Lower Ark is obviously excited about this,” said Melissa Esquibel, a Lower Ark board member who sits on the Fountain Creek board.
Board member Jane Rhodes, a Fountain Creek landowner, is related to the family which is selling the property.