Pueblo Water is leasing stored water to help with reservoir drawdown for runoff

Historic Pueblo Riverwalk via TravelPueblo.com
Historic Pueblo Riverwalk via TravelPueblo.com

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

Anticipating a storage crunch later in the spring, Pueblo Water is inviting Arkansas River basin water users to bid on raw water leases.

“A lot of it is about trying to get our upper reservoir water levels down at Clear Creek, Turquoise and Twin Lakes,” said Alan Ward, water resources manager for Pueblo Water. “The leases now are driven by what’s in storage, not any prediction of what we’ll get in 2016.”

Pueblo Water is trying to make space for water it expects to gain this year, so will lease at least 20,000 acrefeet (6.5 billion gallons) of water through the spot market this year. That’s more than typical because 2015 was a wet year, with the trend likely to continue and make storage space tight again.

“If additional water is available, additional proposals may be approved in later months,” Ward said.

Two separate sets of contracts are being offered. One group would provide 15,000 acre-feet of water before May 31, while the other offers 5,000 acre-feet that must be taken by the end of the year.

The water is leased to the highest bidders, and can vary throughout the season. Last year, in February, more than 10,800 acre-feet were leased for prices over $100 per acre-foot. But after heavy rains in May and June, there were few takers for additional water. Pueblo Water was able to lease some to Fowler and the Lower Arkansas Water Management Association for about $50 per acre-foot in early summer and to Colorado Parks and Wildlife for $15 per acrefoot in late summer.

Bids for raw water must total a minimum of $500 and be returned to Pueblo Water by Feb. 11. Water leased through this program cannot be used to grow marijuana.

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