Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board approves 2016 budget

Fryingpan-Arkansas Project via the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District
Fryingpan-Arkansas Project via the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A $22.5 million budget was reviewed Thursday by the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District board.

The board will meet at 11 a.m. Dec. 3 to give final approval to the budget.

Most of the budget, about $12.3 million, goes toward repaying the federal government for construction of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project. Of that, $5.3 million repays the Fountain Valley Conduit through an assessment only on the portion of the district in El Paso County, according to a presentation by Leann Noga, finance coordinator.

Districtwide, a 0.9 mill levy will collect about $7 million to repay the Fry-Ark debt. The rate will not change.

A total operating budget of $4 million is projected, funded by a 0.035 mill levy, specific ownership tax, enterprise contract revenues and grants.

The district’s primary projects in the coming year will be continued work on the Arkansas Valley Conduit, negotiating a federal contract for an excess capacity master contract to store water in Lake Pueblo and adding hydropower to the North Outlet Works at Pueblo Dam.

The hydropower project is a joint venture with Colorado Springs Utilities and Pueblo Water and is expected to total $5.2 million, but the cost is reflected in the Southeastern district budget since it is the lead agency.

Action now the key to #COWaterPlan — Eric Kuhn and Jim Lochhead

San Pedro Acequia. The headgate of the second oldest acequia in Colorado. Photo by Devon G. Peña
San Pedro Acequia. The headgate of the second oldest acequia in Colorado. Photo by Devon G. Peña

From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Eric Kuhn and Jim Lochhead):

We should all truly celebrate. Two years after the governor’s executive order, we finally have a Colorado Water Plan that lays out measurable objectives and metrics to help guide us toward a secure water future.

In the face of future challenges that include population growth and climate change, Colorado’s first-ever water plan is a call to action to all Coloradans to work collaboratively to ensure we protect our scarce water resources by using and developing our water supplies in the most efficient and responsible manner possible.

We applaud those who contributed to this plan, including those involved with the critical work of the basin roundtables. But, we are far from done.

The success of this plan will depend upon all of us — Western Slope, East Slope, agriculture, municipalities and environmentalists — putting aside our individual interests, and coming together to do what’s best for Colorado. This plan must be implemented. If not, all the years of effort would be wasted.

It won’t be easy. Each of us must be willing to change. We must be willing to experiment, try new ideas and even risk failure. But we can learn from our mistakes and find ideas and projects that will help prepare us for an uncertain future. It will require leadership, collaboration and energy. It may be uncomfortable at times, and everyone isn’t going to get everything they want. But if we’re willing to roll up our sleeves, we can realize much of what is proposed in this plan, from conservation to land use planning to storage.

The stakes are high. What makes Colorado great are our cities, agricultural economies, recreational opportunities and environment. What will keep Colorado great depends upon what we do today.

The Colorado Water Plan is a road map to help us all prepare for an uncertain climate future and pending water shortages. If we don’t prepare, we only have ourselves to blame for the cost to our citizens, to our economy, to our environment and to our future. So the question we now must ask is: Do we collaborate and implement this plan, or do we do nothing and hope tomorrow takes care of itself? Here’s to a move in the right direction.

Grand River Ditch
Grand River Ditch