#ColoradoRiver Basin #Drought: PBOWW board meeting recap

Alan Ward stands at the Ewing Ditch headgate,
Alan Ward stands at the Ewing Ditch headgate,

From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A contract for a pilot program that would leave some of Pueblo’s water on the Western Slope was approved Tuesday by the Pueblo Board of Water Works.

Pueblo Water will leave 200 acre-feet (65 million gallons) of water from the Ewing Ditch for a fee of about $134,000 as part of an $11 million pilot project to test tools to manage drought in the Colorado River basin.

The program is paid for by the Upper Colorado River Commission, Bureau of Reclamation, Southern Nevada Water Authority, Denver Water, Central Arizona Water Conservation District and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

It will test methods to maintain levels in Lake Powell and Mead through conservation techniques in all seven states in the Colorado River basin.

“How is it tracked?” water board member Kevin McCarthy asked.

“It’s going to be hard to watch 200 acre-feet from the top of Tennessee Pass to Lake Powell,” said Alan Ward, water resources manager. “But in theory, it gets there.”

Pueblo Water only has to bypass the flows, Ward explained.

The board approved the concept last summer, and the bypass is only about one-third of what originally was proposed.

The Ewing Ditch was purchased by Pueblo Water from Otero Canal in 1954 after it was dug in 1880 to bring Colorado River basin water over Tennessee Pass into the Arkansas River basin. It typically yields about 900-1,000 acrefeet per year, although the amount can vary. In some years, such as 2015, there might not be places to store the water.

The water board also passed a resolution supporting HB1005, which would legalize rain barrels in Colorado. Board President Nick Gradisar requested the resolution after already offering his personal support to the bill’s co-sponsor, Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo.

A contract of $275,000 to Black & Veatch to study water distribution was also approved.

Colorado transmountain diversions via the State Engineer's office
Colorado transmountain diversions via the State Engineer’s office

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