From The Fairplay Flume (Flip Boettcher):
About 30 people met at the Bull Moose Restaurant and Bar June 5 in Guffey to hear how the Center of Colorado Water Conservancy District and the Upper South Platte Water Conservancy District’s plans for augmented water in water division 2 were progressing.
There was a town hall water meeting with CCWD and USPWCD last year in April.
Colorado has seven water basins and parts of two of them are located in Park County.
Division 1 is in the South Platte water basin and covers most of Park County. The South Platte water basin has “free water,” that is, water not claimed by water rights.
Division 2, which includes far southern Park County, in the Guffey area, is in the Arkansas water basin. The Arkansas basin is over-appropriated. This means more water has been designated as available than is actually in the river.
Therefore, the CCWCD and the USPWCD needed a plan for augmented (supplemental) water to supply Division 2’s water needs.
In attendance at the meeting were local resident Bill Betz, organizer of the meeting; Dan Drucker, Operations Manager for CCWCD; David Shohet, legal representative for CCWC and HASP (Headwater Authority of the South Platte); and the entire board of directors for the USPWCD, John Rice, Tom Wells, Lynda James, local Guffey resident Bob Slagle and Dave Wissel, president.
The CCWCD, which serves only Park County and the USPWCD, which serves Park County and parts of Teller, Douglas, Jefferson and Clear Creek counties, have been working nearly 20 years on a water augmentation program for Division 2, and it is close to being finished, Drucker said.
It is just waiting for the judge’s signature, he added. HASP was formed by the two water districts to be the business entity for the augmented water plans within their service areas.
An augmented water plan is a legal way to replace upstream water use to downstream water rights.
One doesn’t actually get the augmented water, explained Shohet. Currently, Division 1 has an augmentation plan in place.
According to Wissel, the Division 2 augmentation water plan is still in the preliminary design phase, but finally there is a legal way to divert water to Division 2.
What is really needed is the purchase of native water rights and storage vessels, including ponds, Wissel added.
One of HASP’s goals is to locate and develop water resources for use by its customers.
HASP has purchased senior water rights and storage vessels at Twin Lakes in Lake County. This will enable HASP to release water downstream for upstream augmented water use in Division 2, stated Shohet.
HASP would also like to purchase some water rights on Badger and Currant creeks in Park County.
HASP is also looking for local ponds to store water in, but these ponds need to be by a live stream, said Drucker, so HASP can take out water, store it, and release it in a timely manner.
Another goal of HASP is to help businesses and residents in their service area obtain water supplies for their water uses. HASP’s biggest interest is to help existing subdivisions – not new ones – obtain a water supply as well as commercial uses.
HASP can only supply augmented water in its service areas.
HASP’s last goal is to bring out-of-compliance water users into compliance with state regulations. HASP is not an enforcement agency, stressed Drucker. HASP can only develop and sell augmented water to its service area customers.
The state does the enforcement of out-of-compliance users. The augmented water plan is not only a way to bring out-of-compliance users into compliance, Wissel said, but also a way for those already compliant users to obtain additional water.
Drucker said many water users with an in-house use only well are running 8-10 cows and doing outside watering.
In-house use only wells means no outside tap. These users would need to purchase augmented water to come into compliance.
Domestic wells allow for an outside tap, watering for livestock and watering of a up to 1-acre garden. Any water use over that would require the purchase of augmented water.
According to Shohet, one domestic well is allowed per 35-acres.
Right now, according to Shohet, anyone can get a water right for any stream or creek in Colorado, but with the “first in time, first in line” water rule, you may not actually get water without an augmented water plan.
Since augmented water is based on usage, augmented wells will be metered. In existing compliant wells, only augmented water will be metered.
The Division 2 augmented water plan is not ready yet. There are no customers for the augmented water, but the need for water will generate customers once the plan is in place, said Drucker.
There are also plans to transport water from Division 1 to Division 2, but storage vessels are needed, Wissel said.
A question was raised about HASP holding people hostage and charging sky high rates for augmented water.
HASP is composed of three members from CCWCD and USPWCD. It takes three members to approve actions.
James said HASP would never be in a profit mode, that it is a legal entity and a beneficial monopoly.
In December 2015, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law Colorado’s water plan which notes the broad, near-term actions needed to secure future water.
The plan includes continued efforts to conserve water; additional efforts to reuse and recycle water; more water options for agriculture; and a path forward for interests to agree and create benefits for basins that provide water.