From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):
Group plans that will help resolve water issues for more than 160 farms were filed this week with the Colorado Department of Water Resources by the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.
Called Rule 10 plans, they give farmers a way to comply with surface irrigation rules put in place in 2010 as a response to on-farm improvements such as sprinklers and drip irrigation. The state went to court to implement the rules to head off future challenges of the Arkansas River Compact by Kansas.
The state must approve the plans and comments are open on them until April 11.
The Lower Ark district filed two plans, one for farmers on the Fort Lyon Canal, the largest ditch in the Arkansas Valley, and another for farmers on other ditches.
The Fort Lyon plan covers 62 farmers and 99 farms. It projects a credit of 639 acre-feet, but because of monthly accounting, will have to provide some replacement water, said Jack Goble, Lower Ark engineer.
The non-Fort Lyon plan covers 46 farmers and 62 farms on 11 ditches: Amity, Baldwin Stubbs, Bessemer, Buffalo, Catlin, Fort Bent, High Line, Holbrook, Lamar, Las Animas Consolidated and Rocky Ford. It projects a credit of 315 acre-feet, but some recharge and replacement water will be provided on a monthly basis.
Among sources of replacement water for the two plans are Lower Ark storage at Lake Pueblo, Fryingpan-Arkansas water, ditch return flows and leased water from Pueblo Water.
Most of the improvements involve sprinklers fed by ponds, and the Lower Ark district sponsored a study over the past three years which showed leakage from ponds is twice the value originally presumed by the state. The new figure, about four inches per day, is incorporated into both plans.
All of the farms are on ditch systems, since water is generally used in rotation.